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The Monday Poem > Se Questo è un uomo Primo Levi

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message 1: by LauraT (last edited Aug 06, 2018 03:25AM) (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13416 comments Mod
This is not an easy poem; he was not an easy author.
I've decided for it because the 31st of July would have been his 99th birthday.
It would have been if he had not committed suicide in 1987, not being able, even after all those years, to cope with the memory of his staying in Auschwitz.

He was, tecnically, not a poet, nor a writer - he was a chemist. But he wrote so many beautiful books, he is now remember for that.

In these days, when to be black, Romas, sometimes still Jew - not to speack of LGBS or different in anyway - can still be difficoult, if not dangerous, I think it is IMPERATIVE to remember what has been, not so long ago


message 2: by LauraT (last edited Aug 06, 2018 03:22AM) (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13416 comments Mod
Se questo è un uomo - Primo Levi

Voi che vivete sicuri
nelle vostre tiepide case,
voi che trovate tornando a sera
il cibo caldo e visi amici:
Considerate se questo è un uomo
che lavora nel fango
che non conosce pace
che lotta per mezzo pane
che muore per un si o per un no.
Considerate se questa è una donna,
senza capelli e senza nome
senza più forza di ricordare
vuoti gli occhi e freddo il grembo
come una rana d'inverno.
Meditate che questo è stato:
vi comando queste parole.
Scolpitele nel vostro cuore
stando in casa andando per via,
coricandovi, alzandovi.
Ripetetele ai vostri figli.
O vi si sfaccia la casa,
la malattia vi impedisca,
i vostri nati torcano il viso da voi.


You who live secure
In your warm houses
Who return at evening to find
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider whether this is a man,
Who labours in the mud
Who knows no peace
Who fights for a crust of bread
Who dies at a yes or a no.
Consider whether this is a woman,
Without hair or name
With no more strength to remember
Eyes empty and womb cold
As a frog in winter.
Consider that this has been:
I commend these words to you.
Engrave them on your hearts
When you are in your house, when you walk on your way,
When you go to bed, when you rise.
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your house crumble,
Disease render you powerless,
Your offspring avert their faces from you.


message 3: by Greg (new)

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Thanks so much for sharing this Laura - it is simple but powerful! And the author's time in Auschwitz brings it even more into perspective, this plea for empathy.


message 4: by Joan (new)

Joan Wonderful Laura - truly is has been “engraved on my heart” - he really touches the soul with his simple and even gentle words.


message 5: by Darrick (new)

Darrick Williams | 34 comments This is a nice poem which tells of the grim circumstances that many are facing. Also, maybe how frustrated he is that others may not have given a thought about them.

This poem, understandably has a lot of emotions in it.

The first stanza tells the people, in which I gather in frustration as to: Go ahead, live sheltered lives with friendly face, without fear, and without hunger.

The second stanza tells of the dire circumstances that he and others are going through.

And of course the third stanza to me, still feels as if its full with frustration with the “You who live.” The poem says engrave these words on your hearts wherever you are, maybe to give a thought to their situation. However, in full frustration says:

“Or may your house crumble,
Disease render you powerless,
Your offspring avert their faces from you”

Thanks for posting Laura


message 6: by Joan (new)

Joan That last stanza sounded like an old-world, Biblical curse to me and added to my feeling of timelessness & universality of genocide.


message 7: by Nancy from NJ (new)

Katz Nancy from NJ (nancyk18) The last stanza is somewhat similar to one of our prayers found in Judaism. You shall post a mezuzah on your doors and you shall teach these words to your children and you will love your God.


message 8: by Joan (new)

Joan Nancy, I’ve had friends with mezuzah on their doors but never heard the associated prayer...off to google it now!
Isn’t it wonderful how GR broadens awareness.


message 9: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13416 comments Mod
Thanks for all your comments!


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