“When gold paint flakes from the arms of sculptures,
When the letter falls out of the book of laws,
Then consciousness is naked as an eye.
When the pages of books fall in fiery scraps
Onto smashed leaves and twisted metal,
The tree of good and evil is stripped bare.
When a wing made of canvas is extinguished
In a potato patch, when steel disintegrates,
Nothing is left but straw huts and cow dung.”
These stanzas are from the poem “The Spirit of History”
by Czeslaw Milosz, published in 2001 in “A Treatise on Poetry”