Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Holocaust Poem of the Day: Without His Mother to Light the Candles

“Two o’clock in the morning. Silence.” – Janusz Korczak

The violin slid through his fingers,
singing through every shaking note.
The bow frayed under his bony hand
while the strings pitched and swayed
across the paper’s faded bars.

He played every night
through the span of a candle.

Melting light rolled down the stem and
swept across the table; he began to weep.
Once the wax dripped off the edge and
onto his bare knee, the tears ceased,
the music stopped; his voice whispered,

About Janusz Korczak

Janusz Korczak was an elderly doctor who cared for countless children at an orphanage in the Warsaw Ghetto. Born Henryk Goldzmit in 1878, Korczak first made a name for himself in Poland as a pediatrician, writer, and children’s rights advocate. Korczak would later change his name to shield himself from the growing anti-Semitism of the time. He wrote autobiographical novels at the turn of the century as well as founding the first children’s newspaper, The Little Review, and he had a radio program as “the Old Doctor.” Later, he gave up his medical practice to establish the first progressive orphanages in Warsaw. From that point until the beginning of the Nazi occupation of Warsaw, Korczak wrote about children and for children. Korczak was 64 when he began writing Ghetto Diary (Yale University Press: New Haven (CT), 2003). Refusing numerous attempts at freedom, Korczak died with his children at Treblinka.

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