Benny Andersen

The Last Poem In The World

By Benny Andersen

If this were the last poem in the world
I would make it as long as possible
infinitely long
but I would slow down at the last few lines
and stop just before it ended
afraid of falling into space
or I would lie down
and creep on my belly out to the edge
hang on tight to the very last words
and carefully lean over the abyss
where all poems end
and try to look under the poem
use this rare opportunity
to see a poem from the other side
and just imagine if there I would see
the first poem in the world
Then like a fly I would move
along this underside
clinging to every word
until I knew it by heart
and when I was done with the last line
I’d try to get back on top again
hang and kick and panting a little
twist myself up over the edge
and turn up in the first line of this poem
or maybe some place completely different
If this were the last poem in the world
I would refuse to believe it
or I’d put it off until later
and work on another one
If this were the last poem in the world
I would refuse to write it
in any case I would stop as soon as possible
                                      like right here

By Benny Andersen  ©1969 “Det sidste digt i verden”
Translation by Michael Goldman
This translation was published in The Cincinnati Review and online at http://www.poems.com