The world laments with many tongues;
You had your one.
But you said enough, with your rhymes and your songs
And your crying, crying, crying all night long.
You were just killing time till it was time to go
But found time dies too slow.
It’s all right now, I think you’d say.
Maybe there was a better change you could have made
But finally they’re all the same.
After the games you’d played with pain
The gas was easy, anyway.
Were you afraid? Who wouldn’t be?
You knew the soul is what it feels.
A private pain is no less real:
Yours grew until it had to be set free.
I guess you did it perfectly.
Red shriek the poppies in the green fields of Poland.
Death lies in wait in the black forests of Poland.
Wheat rots, unharvested.
The reapers are all dead.
However much their mothers starve
The children cry for bread.
And frightened from their nests, the birds have ceased
To sing; the trees lift up their limbs for grief
And bow and whisper lamentation towards the east;
And when the wind takes up their sorrows like a prayer
And when they bow down like old Jews in attitudes of prayer
The broad, blood-sodden earth is shaken,
The stones themselves awaken.
This year, who will sound
The Shofar for the supplicants beneath the ground?
The hundred thousands whom no headstones name,
The hundred thousands God alone can name.
How shall they be entered into Heaven’s book aright?
Lord, we beseech you,
Let the prayers of the trees reach you
Tonight, as we light the last light.
No rain that summer, my father said, the grasshoppers’ song bringing
No relief among the dry weeds. Then the buffalo came like thunder,
My father said, they came like the flood
That follows rain. The hunters went out singing
In the cool before dawn, dark shapes going along under
A dark sky. My father said by the time they came back again,
The whites were heaps of bones beside their heaped goods,
And the grasshoppers were singing up the rain.