MORE LIGHT! MORE LIGHT!
For Heinrich Blucher and Hannah Arendt
Composed in the Tower before his execution These moving verses, and being brought at that time Painfully to the stake, submitted, declaring thus: "I implore my God to witness that I have made no crime." Nor was he forsaken of courage, but the death was horrible, The sack of gunpowder failing to ignite. His legs were blistered sticks on which the black sap Bubbled and burst as he howled for the Kindly Light. And that was but one, and by no means one of he worst; Permitted at least his pitiful dignity; And such as were by made prayers in the name of Christ, That shall judge all men, for his soul's tranquility. We move now to outside a German wood. Three men are there commanded to dig a hole In which the two Jews are ordered to lie down And be buried alive by the third, who is a Pole. Not light from the shrine at Weimar beyond the hill Nor light from heaven appeared. But he did refuse. A Luger settled back deeply in its glove. He was ordered to change places with the Jews. Much casual death had drained away their souls. The thick dirt mounted toward the quivering chin. When only the head was exposed the order came To dig him out again and to get back in. No light, no light in the blue Polish eye. When he finished a riding boot packed down the earth. The Luger hovered lightly in its glove. He was shot in the belly and in three hours bled to death. No prayers or incense rose up in those hours Which grew to be years, and every day came mute Ghosts from the ovens, sifting through crisp air, And settled upon his eyes in a black soot.
Of the multiple benefits I've enjoyed as both a student and employee of Hilltop, studying with Tony Hecht for five years is by a large margin the most personally fulfilling and rewarding. I've told the stories here before - if you'd like to hear them for the first time or hear them again, send me an email, I'll go dig up the links.
Here in this bleak city of Rochester,
Where there are twenty-seven words for “snow,”
Not all of them polite, the wayward mind
Basks in some Yucatan of its own making,
Some coppery, sleek lagoon, or cinnamon island
Alive with lemon tints and burnished natives,
And O that we were there. But here the natives
Of this grey, sunless city of Rochester
Have sown whole mines of salt about their land
(Bare ruined Carthage that it is) while snow
Comes down as if The Flood were in the making.
Yet on that ocean Marvell called the mind
An ark sets forth which is itself the mind,
Bound for some pungent green, some shore whose natives
Blend coriander, cayenne, mint in making
Roasts that would gladden the Earl of Rochester
With sinfulness, and melt a polar snow.
It might be well to remember that an island
Was blessed heaven once, more than an island,
The grand, utopian dream of a noble mind.
In that kind climate the mere thought of snow
Was but a wedding cake; the youthful natives,
Unable to conceive of Rochester,
Made love, and were acrobatic in the making.
Dream as we may, there is far more to making
Do than some wistful reverie of an island,
Especially now when hope lies with the Rochester
Gas and Electric Co., which doesn’t mind
Such profitable weather, while the natives
Sink, like Pompeians, under a world of snow.
The one thing indisputable here is snow,
The single verity of heaven’s making,
Deeply indifferent to the dreams of the natives,
And the torn hoarding-posters of some island.
Under our igloo skies the frozen mind
Holds to one truth: it is grey, and called Rochester.
No island fantasy survives Rochester,
Where to the natives destiny is snow
That is neither to our mind nor of our making.
LISTEN TO THIS! Thanks Brad.