mercredi, janvier 27, 2016

Hollandsche Schouwburg (Poem in English)

by Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

The following short poem is on wall of an Amsterdam building -

in Amsterdam 1940-45

thuis sluipend ingesloten
angstig in de nacht verwacht
door soldaten opgebracht
gevangen in de val

Hollandsche Schouwburg
duistere verzamelplaats
halte voor een dag

de tram
de trein
na Westerbork
het dodende

("Persecution of the Jews
in Amsterdam 1940-45

at home, gathering in isolation
waiting at night in fear
rounded up by soldiers
caught in a trap

Hollandsche Schouwburg
grim assembly point
a stop for a day

the tram
the train
to Westerbork
to the deadly

This Bible-text is from a monument in Amsterdam -

"Waren mijn ogen een bron van tranen dan zou ik wenen dag en nacht om de gevallen strijders van mijn dierbaar volk." -naar Jer. 8:23

( "Oh, that my eyes were a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people." - Jer. 9:1)


Plantage Middenlaan.
Poem inscribed on a building.

Hollandsche Schouwburg.
Nazi railway station.
Jewish waiting-room.

Two days ago, forehead to glass,

I looked through this locked door
to the bare stone chamber within,

and through that interior glass wall,
to a courtyard of concrete and brick
with its obelisk of black stone,

a monumental thorn, obdurate,
I speculate, in the jack-boot path
of passing Time.

Marshalled along two walls of white,
blood-red tulips palpitate
like heart-beats in the snow.

Their green dance of leaf and stem
stock-still now, a silent tableau
of when the music's pulse was cut.

Alloted to each plant, a leaf
of white paper, portentous
as a brandished document.

And silent witness on the ashen floor,
a fluent tongue of orange burns
from cold lips of stainless steel.

I started to copy the poem down,
but before long
there fell a shower of hail.

My pen became
a frozen vein in my hand,
its chill blood unable

more to bloom
the white leaf
in my wintered palm.

Yet it was not that ice
which gave me most pause,
but this genial morning sun,

for by some eerie influence of the light
upon that inner pane of glass
I now see myself quite plainly

arrested and alone in that courtyard,
holding my gaze, searching my soul
with God-dark Jewish eyes.

(Amsterdam, March-April 1996)
Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh.