The final stanza

forget the ink, the milk, the blood
Paper with ink and pen


The mention of "ink" could suggest the act of creation

Robert de Niro in Taxi Driver 1978
The bleak tone of voice is suggestive of the central character, played by Robert de Niro (above), in 'Taxi Driver'

This stanza is written in italics, as if quoting someone’s direct speech. But whose? It could be a line of voice-over from the film. It has a similar bleak tone to the voice of a world-weary detective or a doomed criminal in the type of film noir that the images suggest. It could suggest the film “Taxi Driver” in which the central character famously says of rain that “Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.” The commanding voice and biblical imagery could even suggest the voice of some kind of god.

The stanza opens with a command. All three substances listed are liquids, like rain. They are organic and the very stuff of life: "ink" could suggest the act of creation; "milk" nuture and growth; and "blood" what we inherit and pass on to the next generations. In being told to "forget" them, the speaker is wanting us to begin again.

all was washed clean with the flood

This line conveys a cleansing process. We are reminded of the Flood in the Old Testament that washed away the sins of the past. There is a sense of the joy and energy of awakening in "we rose up from the falling waters", as if we enter the world renewed and refreshed.

However, Paterson undercuts this when he says we are "the fallen rain's own sons and daughters." Here "fallen" refers to the action of the rain but also to someone who has sinned. We are the offspring of 'fallen' man and as such perhaps there is no redemption for us.

none of this, none of this matters.

Paterson ends the poem by telling us that none of this matters. This line breaks with the quatrains and therefore stands out. The repetition of "none of this" is is emphatic and insistent. It is also rhythmical and trance-like, perhaps trying to lull us into adopting a similar nihilistic attitude. And yet, the very presence of the poem and the collection confirms that humanity with its flaws and unhappy endings does matter.