I get off on really old examples of post-apocalyptic literature, stuff from before the 1940’s or so. I’ve already mentioned works like The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion by Edgar Allan Poe and The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, and of course, there are many others.
One work that I came across a while back might be familiar to most of you because of how it was later adapted, but There Will Come Soft Rains didn’t start out as a Ray Bradbury short story, it was first a very short poem by Sara Teasdale written in 1920.
Here it is:
There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pool singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.
For a pre-atomic age writer, I think it’s interesting that she was able to envision the total end of humanity like that. Unfortunately, she committed suicide in 1933. If she had lived another decade or so, I wonder what she would have thought about the events of 1945.