Primo Levi

(1919 - 1987 / Turin / Italy)

Shema


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.


Translated by Ruth Feldman And Brian Swann


Anonymous submission.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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Comments about this poem (Shema by Primo Levi )

  • Rookie Matthew Balnaves (6/13/2005 6:43:00 AM)

    Brilliant poem...illustrates the suffering of one of the very few survivors of the most serious attrocity ever. Levi was a truly awesome wordsmith who preached his woes to a world that could never quite understand. (Report) Reply

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