The old trees stand tall, reaching for the sky,
Onto the pavement rusty leaves they cry.
Death hangs in the air.
Wind softly whisper:
“Requiem eternam dona eis
Domine.” Wind - with hiss - blows farewell kiss.
A last, sad fanfare…
On ancient rocks of windswept Taigetos
Spirits of distressed mothers wail their loss,
And to no avail,
On crushed bodies of dead children below
Withered dead leaves the sorrowful wind blow…
Inside the tall Coliseum of Rome,
Over dead bodies, pride of lions roam.
The crowds watch and cheer;
No objecting jeer…
Dies irae! Thunderbolt from dark sky;
Vengeful angels ‘cross the firmaments fly…
Never ending tear…
On bank of Danube – hard to understand –
Cast in bronze - forlorn reminder - there stand
Poignant rows of shoes;
Mementoes of Jews…
Kyrie eleison – Lord have mercy…
For men, women, children no clemency…
Darkness descended; no light anywhere.
We seem to live in eternal nightmare.
Time is running out.
We can’t live without
a glimmer of hope and a chink of light.
Our bitter history we must rewrite,
Or else it’s lights out…
Generations pass – cruelty remain.
Rusty-red dead leaves cover the terrain;
The pregnant sky cries.
We stand still… time flies…
Lux perpetua luceat eis.
Oh Infinite Mercy bring to us bliss;
Please let the Sun rise.
© P J Oszmann (2010)
Illustration: Photo - from public domain - of a memorial
erected in memory of Jews, murdered on the Pest bank of the Danube in
Budapest by Hungarian fascists, in the autumn of 1944.
The Requiem Mass – a liturgical text in Latin, set to music – is a prayer for the dead.
The autumn, with all its splendour of nature dying, is a poignant reminder of our own mortality.
The poem’s intention is to use the most salient elements of the Latin text – a prayer for the dead – in an autumnal setting, and by highlighting three unconnected episodes of deliberate cruelty against the innocents, from our blood drenched history, remember, and pray for all the dead who suffered a similar fate, whilst hoping and praying for a “New Dawn.”
The inspiration for the poem came from finding the photograph of the understated, touching monument, erected on the Pest side of the Danube in Budapest.
It is a memorial for the Jewish victims of Nazi/ Fascist atrocities, when countless numbers of men, women and children were executed on the bank of the Danube – in the autumn of 1944 – and their bodies were thrown into the river.
There – but for the grace of God – one pair of shoes could have represented me.
So much for the credibility of those who deny that the Holocaust happened.