Friday, April 15, 2011

Holocaust Poem of the Day: Without Rest

“It has been a long time since I have blessed the world.
I tried to tonight. It didn’t work.” – Janusz Korczak

With eyes that rebuked sleep,
the doctor peered over
the piles of sleeping rags.

The dust-frosted window
framed the ghetto’s stove--
the weather, a cold oven,
baked a pan of water the
day before. The children’s
heavy slumber breaths
dripped off the walls.

Last night’s journal pages
floated in a smeared cloud,
the paper thicker than the roof.

No glow echoed
through the window--
the moon extinguished 
since occupation began.

A young boy rolled over,
opened his swollen
shadowed eyes, and
watched Korczak think
from across the room.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment