Monthly Archives: April 2018

In memoriam

The Art of the Children of Terezin, Prague

[Terezin (Theresienstadt) was a Nazi concentration camp outside Prague where Jewish artists and intellectuals (and many children) were sent. The art of the Children of Terezin is in the Jewish Museum in the former Ghetto of Prague, Josefov, Old Town, beside the ancient Jewish cemetery.]

Memories of the Children of Terezin.

Dogs.

Flowers.

Hopscotch.

Barbed wire.

Gestapo.

Poems.

 

Memorie dei bambini di Terezin.

In the adjacent synagogue

Two German boys with earrings

And cutoffs sing close harmony.

Their sweet adolescent chant echoes

In the women’s galleries.

No kites or balloons here

But those imagined or remembered;

Children’s games obscured by

Distant clouds.

 

Beautiful young students,

The language of Goethe and Hegel

On their tongues, bright, fresh-faced,

Pass through thickets of gravestones

To see the dead children’s art.

 

Erinnerungen an die kinder von Terezin.

Barbed wire encircles the

Ancient brick walls;

77,000 dead;

tears on stone;

sunlight through glass

on

hopscotch,

a kitten,

children lined up for food,

games never played,

lives never lived.

 

 

Les memoirs des enfants du Terezin.

The shamefully beautiful scent

Of jasmine blooming,

A funeral cortege,

Stark floodlights,

A yellow star;

Neither blood nor carnage,

Only the long shadow

Of the distant smokestack.

 

Memories of the Children of Terezin.

Sleep, children, whisper the echoes;

Dormi;

Schlaf, meine kinder;

Dormez-vous.

 

Remember, children, sing the birds,

Ricordi;

Gedenken, meine kinder;

N’oubliez jamais.

 

Peace, children, whisper the leaves,

Pace, bambini,

Shalom,

Friede,

Paix.

 

 

 

The Old Jewish Cemetry, Prague

 

Josefov, Jew’s Town.

Sequestered cobbled lanes.

The Golem trod

this quiet ground

where generations sleep.

 

Stilled tumult of stone

overturned by the anarchy

of animus and time,

your shadows murmur distant lullabies

where our sequestered tribe

sang wedding songs, danced, wept

for another homeland lost.

 

Long have they slept,

through fragrant spring and

ferocious holocuast,

their numbers swept up in smoke

with only these tumbling

gravestones to remind.

 

The dead garden rings with songbirds

and the murmur of tourists

videotaping the ancient graves,

the rustle of leaves underfoot,

fluttering prayers scribbled on

scraps of paper

anchored with pebbles

on time-blackened lions.

 

Across the square you can still hear

the relentless chiming

of the Hebrew clock

in the town hall tower

erected in a vibrant ghetto

lifetimes ago.

 

Prague, 1990

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