Friday, May 11, 2018

O The Night of the Weeping Children! by Nelly Sachs

Holocaust Poetry

When I first read the poem, I read it as for the children of the Holocaust, a tragic event for Jews, which is what the poet writes about. Then I read the poem again, and again. And again. I realize, then, that as much as this is true for the weeping children of the Holoacust—and I have written about this countless times—the Holocaust was also a tragic event for humanity. Thus, this poem is also for weeping children of all wars, where-ever they are today occurring. There has been too much sadness in the world, and not enough happiness.

O The Night of the Weeping Children!
by Nelly Sachs

O the night of the weeping children!
O the night of the children branded for death!
Sleep may not enter here.
Terrible nursemaids
Have usurped the place of mothers,
Have tautened their tendons with the false death,
Sow it on to the walls and into the beams—
Everywhere it is hatched in the nests of horror.
Instead of mother's milk, panic suckles those little ones.

Yesterday Mother still drew
Sleep toward them like a white moon,
There was the doll with cheeks derouged by kisses
In one arm,
The stuffed pet, already
Brought to life by love,
In the other—
Now blows the wind of dying,
Blows the shifts over the hair
That no one will comb again.

From In de Wohnungendes Todes (1947)
─Translated from the German by Michael Hamburger

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