Friday, 17 December 2010

Never Forget

There is a poem by Italian chemist and author Primo Levi which sends a shiver down my spine to this day, and not just because of his experiences in Auschwitz. In 1987, Levi was found dead at the bottom of the stairwell in this apartment building. While suicide was ruled by his coroner, many of his friends commented on the fact that - as a chemist - Levi would have been more likely to take his own life through intentional poisoning rather than risking paralysis from the three story plunge. Regardless, Elie Wiesel pointed out that "Primo Levi died at Auschwitz forty years earlier", bringing his haunting past back to the front of our mind, where one would think it resided permanently for him. I have reproduced the poem below:

You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes or a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter.
Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,
Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.

8 comments:

ak47 said...

wow i sure will never forget

Buckaroopopcorn said...

A curse on those that would take people for granted - I love it!

Peacock said...

We're all given so much during our lives. It's hard to think in the shoes of the one's less fortunate. How some people's lives can be dictated by illness or condition, label or creed.

David Davidson said...

Great blog, following and supporting!

MikeyB said...

fantastic

paintchip said...

nice blog, now following

paintchip said...

forget what?

paintchip said...

what were you saying? I forgot.