Thank you to everyone who has commented. I am completely overwhelmed by all your messages of love and support, and by all the intensely personal stories people have shared. I am trying to answer you all, but it may take a while, as there has been a huge reaction to this piece, both online and offline, and I am simultaneously trying to deal with all that too. (This post was number one on Hacker News yesterday, it was number one in Reddit's r/Minecraft subreddit and so on, and each of these things generates a bunch of stuff that I also have to deal with. Plus, journalists have been in touch, old friends have been ringing; there's been a huge reaction to navigate!)

But, bloody hell, your response to this piece here in the comments has been so deeply moving. Thank you. A giant pile of heartfelt thank yous.

To everybody who was already a supporter of The Egg and the Rock; thank you so much for your support so far, and I hope this slightly unusual, slightly off-topic post was of interest. Normal service will be resumed soon! I have a couple of longer posts on the universe nearing completion.

And to everybody new (which is most of you! I think my subscriber numbers tripled in the past 24 hours), welcome. I hope you enjoy the experience here. It's not always this busy in the comments, and I usually have time to engage with them all! Things will calm down soon.

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Thank you Jonathan.

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I haven't played Minecraft myself but I've watched my daughter play for a long time. She doesn't play in survival mode so I don't know that she'll ever see that, but maybe I'll help her. I also cried reading that even with no connection to the game.

I left a job recently, quite abruptly, and many people have reached out but I wasn't ready to hear them. What you wrote about being able to accept love touched me deeply. I'll write back to them finally and include some of that. Thank you for turning it into words.

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The End Poem is beautiful, I'm glad you included it at the end of the post. I cried at "and the universe said you have played the game well"

This was an interesting story and I'm very grateful to you for sharing.

Tangentially, the idea of allowing people to express love in return reminds me of what my harp instructor told me about performing for my family - never apologize for making a mistake or not playing well enough. When you do that, you discredit the emotions you brought your listener. Apologizing is about you- let your playing be a gift for them.

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Dec 7, 2022·edited Dec 7, 2022

I just made an account so I could give this a like and post an "Attaboy!" and a "Well said!". I didn't even know there was an ending poem, much less lore behind it, or even played long enough to see what the ending looks like.

But even with that being said, I can appreciate (is understand a better word?) the feeling(s) of hurt and frustration with people who I thought were being my friend, but maybe I missed something or something got mistranslated in the language of social contracts. I don't know. But even if no one is to blame, it still hurts nonetheless and fuck anyone that says "sticks and stones".

I can even more appreciate laying it all out on the clothesline to dry in the sun, for all the world to see. Yes, we all wear underpants and yes, not everyone's underpants are going to be Victoria's Secret perfect. Some are going to be old, a little worn at the edges, maybe even a little stained. Such is how actual human emotions go, especially those concerning relationships.

And maybe, if you think about it, the End Poem wasn't actually finished. Sure, you might have wrote the last line, but maybe the universe wasn't actually finished yet. Maybe, just maybe, liberating it was the actual, final ending to the End Poem. It's no longer restricted by that final period. Now, you can replace that last period with a comma, a pause. It says we're not really finished yet, because "you are love", love doesn't just end, either. It grows. It branches out. It reaches and grasps, and it lets go.

Maybe freeing it was the true ending to the poem, after all. An ending that you couldn't write for us, but that we'd write for you, for ourselves, for everyone and for no one in particular.

What a beautiful way to end a poem about an ending.

Thank you, Julian.

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Dec 9, 2022·edited Dec 9, 2022

hello mr gough! i’m not sure i’ll be able to form my thoughts very well, but i feel the need to try anyway.

this story has brought me to tears. i’ve been playing minecraft on and off since i was just 12 or 13 years old, and throughout the years i have had many incredible bonding moments with the people i love while playing it. despite all of this however i was never able to finish the story on my own (i’m actually pretty bad at the game, haha), so i never did see the end poem how it’s supposed to be viewed. instead i read it on the internet, on a page about minecraft, and the emotions it made me feel are impossible to describe. i felt it to my very core, and to this day simply thinking about the poem on its own leaves me teary eyed.

i’ll spare you the personal details, i’m sure you’ve heard a lot of similar stories, but your poem has pulled me through some very dark times. often, when i found myself losing faith in the world, or hope for a happier future, or simply felt like the universe does not give a single shit about me, i would remember about the end poem, and i would read it again, and i would cry. it has never failed to reawaken my pure and earnest love for life, and the world, and the people who live in it.

which is why at one point or another i ended up getting a tattoo of it (reading the part about tattoos was very funny, as someone who has the exact same line etched into their arm forever, albeit done much crudely than the one in the picture. mine’s starting to blur a little), just so i could always look at it and remember that the universe is not cruel, and there is a place for me in it. it helps me push through.

i wish i could give you all of the money i could scrape off my struggling bank account for this incredible gift you’ve given all of us. it makes me very bitter to know that i’m not able to do so because i reside in a country currently under foreign sanctions, ultimately banning me from being able to transfer money anywhere abroad. your poem, more than anything, is something that i would be ecstatic to pay for.

i’m sorry i can’t do anything more than show my appreciation through words. thank you so much for putting the end poem into the world. it quite literally means the world to me.

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24 hours ago I read the end poem for the first time after defeating the end dragon for the first time. Both the reaching of this point in the game and the quiet of the words carried a profoundness that felt strange to me. We are often spoken to in that way, in languages we don’t understand or that feel misplaced. I’ve thought a lot about how it made me feel. I’ve only discovered Minecraft last year, in a darkness that scares me to think about, and the significance of this experience made me feel unsettled. In the past few years where I felt like I’ve done and accomplished nothing but escape into a game that means nothing, why should I feel so freed and touched by the culmination of this experience? I want to let you know that this post, this story that is so easy to understand and empathize with:

“I wrote a story for a friend. But in the end he didn’t treat me like a friend. And I’m hurt.”

means just as much to me as the poem. I feel I can know fully appreciate and accept the significance of those words, and of your gift of them. It has provided clarity and meaning to my journey, which looks so similar to your experience of giving and hurting and receiving love. It has gifted me with the knowledge and understanding that all the time I spent with the game was not just a dream, but a part of my story, and your story, and so many others. I too feel liberated. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for gifting.

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hi julian! never realized you had a blog until this article got sent to a discord server i'm in (a discord server only available through subscribing to a small artist's patreon, funnily enough).

the end poem has always struck me as a uniquely beautiful piece, but even more recently it has moved me even more strongly than it ever could've when i was younger.

i'm autistic, and i hold very strong personal connections to the universe, and to love, and to the game, and the dream of the game, and all the silly stuff in between, and this article felt like reading the end poem all over again. i'm wholly in love with the concept of the friendship game, the love game, the gift game, and closing the circuit of love. "let a thousand flowers bloom" struck me in a way that would be quite hard to explain in as few words as this comment, but i think someday i might have to give them to you through an email because i want to tell that story and i want that story to be understood.

thank you for your work, and for what you do, and for closing the circuit of the end poem and giving this gift to all of us. we'll make you proud, guaranteed ♡

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The end poem really touched me as a kid when I was too young to even understand why. Hearing you’d put it in the public domain was super cool to me but reading this post made me cry.

You’re such an incredible person, in an era dominated with hatred and spite, doing something like this is incredible. Thank you for writing such an incredible poem (that was actually part of my inspiration to pursue writing myself) and thank you for being such a shining example of just a genuine and good person.

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Dec 7, 2022·edited Dec 8, 2022

Hey Julian, I'd just like to take a moment to say thank you for writing this story. It's a long ride, but I'm glad you took the time to share it with all of us.

It must have been years since I first beat Minecraft, and reading the End Poem again, the words "the universe said i love you because you are love" still do hit just as hard. I think I understand why those words were so hard to put down at first. Even the words "i love you" alone can be hard to accept, especially when, at times, you can't even bring yourself to love yourself. But it's definitely something that everyone needs to hear, and know, and understand. Those words shook me when I first read them, and I'm glad that with this same gift from the universe, you were able to find peace.

In the end, art makes us human. Keep on creating, and bring love to the world. Thank you for what you do.

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What a wonderful, achingly beautiful post.

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WOW, this is AWESOME and somehow feels totally in keeping with what the universe would do with a poem it wrote:

first, it planted the poem into a fertile seed that grew in the dung of materialist investment to produce a magnificent game that kids all over the world use to learn and grow

it also planted a seed in your mind, newton's second law, for each action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, you cannot give love to the universe without creating the necessary preconditions inside of you

it then distributed its poem all over the world like dandelion seeds on the wind, the seeds took root like so many before it, nourished by rain and soul, sprouted and grew towards the sun

the seed inside your mind as well, stayed, waiting, calling to you patiently, it was probably that seed which prevented you from signing the contract initially

until eventually the two joined up again, every star is, in a sense, a reunion of old supernovae remnants

and now the poem belongs to everyone

it all seems like a real big shitshow until eventually things start coming back together, so long as you open yourself to the possibility of them doing so

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Jan 8Liked by Julian Gough

So I am one of Those Players who faffed around in Survival for a bit, then stopped playing when my computer broke, and I was finishing graduate school, then I became a counselor, then I finished my license, then I was a play therapist for traumatized children, then a wife, then an employee, a homeowner, and now a mother, and again a mother soon. I stopped playing.

I read about this, and internally murmured, "You can WIN Minecraft?!" I think I played before the Ender Dragon. Before horses and all the funny things they keep adding now. So I didn't get to read this at the end of a finished game.

I read it next to my little boy, while he idly pushes his feet against me. I experienced your words while I felt his toes wriggling. He is in his own dream. He giggles and is excited about the dream.

Within me is his little brother, growing. I am growing him. I experienced your words while I felt him moving inside me. (Hiccuping. He is hiccuping.)

These words of yours touched me deeply. They align with how I feel about the Universe. How I love (or try to manifest that love through behavior.) There is a lot of light and dark in my life, and your words were a reminder of everything I try to do and be. And they're part of my dream now.

Thank you. Thank you.

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Sep 22Liked by Julian Gough

hi Julian. i just finished minecraft today. i'm not in a good place in my life, and your poem made me cry a lot and feel a lot of big, powerful things. it made me hurt, and it made me question myself and where i am in my life and what i'm doing, and it made me feel full of love. i felt the love in your words. immediately i felt i had to know more, so i searched the internet and read the wikipedia summary of the situation, and it intrigued me and i *knew* i needed to know more now, so i checked the sources and found this, found you. and ... i don't even have the words to express everything i want to .. so understatement will have to do.

i love every word that you've written here. and i *love* your poem. it made me cry and hurt inside, and then washed over that hurt with love. (and yes it still hurts, but in a good way.) i love what you decided to do with the poem. i'm overjoyed for you that you got to have the experience you did in the nature temple. i'm so glad for you to hear about your growth and healing. i'm not fully okay, but your poem helped me, *you* helped me. from some random depressed trans girl in new zealand, thank you, a million times, a billion times, thank you. thank you.


Callie ♥

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Apr 23·edited Apr 23Liked by Julian Gough

hello. no idea if you'll see this among the sea of comments, might as well try. anyways, i'm an aspiring student author... poet... writer thing (we are still figuring that out) and your work with the end poem has significantly inspired and influenced my work since i was a kid, stylistically and what not. thank you for creating such a beautiful thing for a beautiful game.

and i might as well ask here, i fear i won't have the courage on twitter or whatever: is it alright if i use the end poem as part of a centos poem? (poem entirely made of lines from poems by other poets). i understand it is in the hands of the people, but i just wanted to ask anyways because, ya know, some poets may not appreciate others putting their poetry in a shredding machine for a hodgepodge poem.

thank you so much! have a wonderful day.

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Hey Julian,

I really appreciate you releasing your poem to the public. While I'm sorry to hear about how unfairly you were treated, I'm really happy that you've found this place of peace and brutal, overwhelming forgiveness.

I'm also a storyteller and artist and can deeply empathize with the experience of having money complicate creation.

As silly as it sounds, I would like you to know how much of an influence your poem had on me.

Minecraft was a huge part of my childhood and I suppose it's still a part of my adulthood. There was - and hopefully still is - something uniquely and surreally magical about that little game.

I remember the update that gave us your ending. There was, at last, this incredible catharsis that someone else in this world finally understood that specific magic. A someone that saw a universe that wanted us to create stories big and small, and a universe that was kind.

I've worked on a number of creative projects for the Minecraft Community, and in all of them I've drawn on elements of your writing.

And, as much as I'm bashful to admit it, my offline projects have also been influenced by your sentiments.

For whatever reason, I never really thought to check out your other work. I just ordered a copy of your book, Connect, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

I could gush all night, but I once again want to thank you for your creativity, and thank you for being one of the universe's instruments of love.

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