“About Troy“ by Zbigniew Herbert
Troy O Troy
will sift your ashes through his fingers
yet a fire occurred greater than that of the Iliad
for seven strings–
too few strings
one needs a chorus
a sea of laments
and thunder of mountains
rain of stone
–how to lead
people away from the ruins
how to lead
the chorus from poems–
thinks the faultless poet
as a pillar of salt
–The song will escape unharmed
with flaming wing
into a pure sky
The moon rises over the ruins
Troy O Troy
The city is silent
The poet struggles with his own shadow
The poet cries like a bird in the void
The moon repeats its landscape
gentle metal in smoldering ash
They walked along ravines of former streets
as if on a red sea of cinders
and wind lifted the red dust
faithfully painted the sunset of the city
They walked along ravines of former streets
they breathed on the frozen dawn in vain
they said: long years will pass
before the first house stands here
they walked along ravines of former streets
they thought they would find some traces
a cripple plays
on a harmonica
about the braids of a willow
about a girl
the poet is silent
On 1 September 1939 Poland was vanquished by the Nazi invasion. Today I looked again at a famous collection of photos taken by Hugo Jaeger, a personal photographer to Hitler, at the very beginning of the German occupation of Poland. What touched me especially is how little the photographed people seem to suspect what disaster and suffering is awaiting them. Those haunting photographs are very hard to look at but also make me ponder on the mercy of peaceful obliviousness for this doomed gallery. We must never forget their faces.
Zdzisław Beksiński, “Night Creeper“
Powerful pictures Monika. Thanks
Very powerful – words and pictures. One sad thing I notice is that our “in-your-face” recording of ongoing invasions and political trauma still on going around the world lend a sanitized patina to the photographs. Thank you for sharing.
Yes, a very good point and sadly true. Thank you very much.
“…and the wind lifted the red dust…” I sometimes feel I’m living in a modern day version of an impending “…red red of cinders.” As one who actually lives in a desert, this speaks personally to me. Appreciate the share, Monika.
Thank you, Eric.
The image of Himmler chills me straight to the bone.
Yes… Actually, something happened to the link I posted because there is a glitch on the LIFE magazine website. This is the original link I posted and wrote about:
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I couldn´t take a look at the photos, but I understand what you mean. I won´t forget. This theme was one of those themes I had an inner “Scorpian” need to study thoroughly in the past, especially the psychology (can´t find a better expression at the moment) via the human stories. Since then I haven´t read another book nor watched another movie about the theme. (And that´s the same to me with many other themes, intensity, that rarely rarely calls back anymore. )
I won´t forget. With all my love.
The poem is great. Deep and gentle at the same time.
Dearest Deelia, thank you for your sensitivity much similar to the one you sensed so well in the poem.
Thanks for your kindness, always. 🙂
PS. The image is touching, too, deeply understanding.
Reblogged this on lampmagician and commented:
We must never forget their faces, they are real!
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Great poetic choice to accompany the images. War and hatred are terrifying. As I look around what is happening in the world, I confess to being afraid that the cycle of history may be coming around again.
I hope not, Jeff. I must say it makes a huge difference for me to live in a country now which has never experienced war. But I still try to honour the past, as I did with this post.
I am also going to forgo the images. I saw Schinder’s list and that will last me many lifetimes, plus all I read in school, such as Night and Man’s Search For Meaning. Clearly if I was alive in Poland at that time I most likely would not have survived. Perhaps this is partially why I long to know more about my ancestry Monika. As war swirls around us presently, I wish more would re-member the atrocities of violence and self-hatred projected outward.
I could not agree more, Linda. The images are not scary because they show people before all the hell broke loose. I hope you will find out more about your ancestry. The best way would be to visit Poland of course.
You are right….it’s as if the faces in those photos don’t belong to situation…the surroundings there..if that makes sense?
I agree. It makes a lot of sense what you say. Was this their way to cope, I wonder.
Strangely…the feeling I get when I think back to those photos…is more of an innocence? that as you said…they weren’t really aware of what was happening or see where it was leading to?
Yes, perhaps you are right. I think the whole Europe did not expect what Hitler was really planning for them.
Monika – first thanks for visiting my Mangal/Mars – then, i loved that thought – which has strangely just disappeared – about thought being immaterial and sound being its offspring if i recollect rightly – also the poem on troy – Hitler remains an iconic bad memory, probably a necessary one to remind us of what humans are always capable of – he was no exception, it replicates daily, alas – Poland has come out so well in ‘afterlife’ – i don’t mean to minimize the trauma for the Polish – as too Hitler’s Germany – can you believe what they were today? – of course let us not condemn all Germans – a great race of great thinkers and intellectuals – my favourites are Max Muller and Heinrich Zimmer ‘Philosophies of India’ etc – strangely when i went to New York i found that my grandson’s nurse was a Monika too – all american now but wanting to return eventually to her Poland – dont misunderstand me – this was no monika of the symbols but i empathized with her and found that she was warm and so genuine but struggling and not all happy despite the great american opportubities – surely the effects of what Poland has been through. – i hope this is not too intrusive – i really meant it as a compliment to the Polsh spirit.
Dear Indrajit, the thoughts you expressed about the Polish spirit are so precious – thank you. I think it may be true that we Slavic people are such tormented souls frequently prone to self sabotage. I live in Germanic country and have no issue whatsoever with the people. I admire the Germans as you do.
Thank you for stopping by – you are always a warmly welcome presence around here.