Kalman Lis: World Why Are You Silent

When you have not the right words yourself, share the words of another. -hrg

I know this will be no more than a poem,
a poem formed in rhythm and rhyme,
perhaps it will speak to the spirit
and not be just a poem wasting time..

For can there be any sense and worth
in the wielding and clashing of swords,
bloodied again and again
cutting wounds in the heart of earth

But still a force in me drives to act
like the eagle tears cages to fly to the field
a wolf fights his trap to flee to the forest
and the trunk of the oak sends blossom to branch

Cell block 11 at Auschwitz Concentration Camp. (Photo Credit/H.R. Gordon)

Where is your heart and your conscience world?
Give heed to the beatings of killers!!
See the Jew for he has planted your field
with growth of love and spirit.

The Jew because he’s just a Jew
and not German, -not Aryan pure
but he whose child’s sign is Semite
has dared to birth God himself.

Oh world why are you silent, come and see,
the Hun going wild on your lap,
who has after one thousand years of cultural age
revealed he is Woton in savage rampage.

So what if he presents himself now as refined
and instead of animal pelt he wears clothes,
a brown buttoned sleek uniform
he spreads hate speech to poison minds?!

So what if only yesterday he was

The gates to Auschwitz read “Work sets you free.”

a Goethe, Beethoven and Kant,
toda he is a wild fire that burns
Any trace of free spirit in the land.

Oh world I call to you and I will not tire,
though I’m a fool to hope for your help –
I am after all no more than a Jew
with faith in more than the strength of himself

See the boots of the brute that trample on him.
and where there’s a whip, it falls on his skin,
Yet one thing I still own and believe in –
my faith in the red dawn of tomorrow.

But my faith defies reality
which beats hail on me in this life.
Oh world, I might as well tear out all my hair
and run wild like the gone-crazy wife.

Who one night on the way to “no man’s land”
driven by a pack of brown dogs,
with her own hands inside her womb
tried to tear out the child from herself

Oh horror – she could not tie the cord,
attached to the navel, carried in terror
and finally with curses from her mouth
fell dead on the unknown road

Oh world forgive that I now sing so gray
and draw scenes for you gruesome, and dark.
I wanted a song – but these words are true
just now come from my crucified heart.


This poem, and my others, can be found on Poetry in Hell. The website is filled with poems from the Warsaw Ghetto and elsewhere that was collected by the “Oneg Shabbat Society” under the leadership of Emanual Eingelblum. They were secretly preserved and buried in the Warsaw Ghetto during Nazi occupation. 


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