Study Guide

A Canticle for Leibowitz Chapter 23

By Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Chapter 23

  • The Poet lies hot, thirsty, and dying by the roadside, while an officer screams nearby for his mother.
  • "How in the world did I get into this fix?" the Poet wonders. He'd been hiding from the battle, because he thought that it wasn't his battle.
  • Then he saw this officer hacking away at a woman, and the Poet leapt from his hiding spot to stab him three times.
  • The officer's fellow soldiers did not take kindly to that, and now the Poet is digesting a bullet.
  • Of course, the officer isn't doing too hot either. He pleads for God.
  • The Poet drags himself toward the officer. Pretending to be a priest, he blesses the man before ending his life.
  • Then the Poet takes a sip from the officer's canteen, has an unpleasant bowel movement, and dies.
  • Thanks for the gory details, Mr. Miller.
  • The buzzards wait a few days for the Poet to properly cure before eating him.
  • Generations of buzzards come and go. (Are you sensing a theme here?)
  • The Year of Our Lord 3781 is peaceful. The people pray it will remain so.

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