Monday, August 24, 2009

798. Shemà - Primo Levi

Translated from the Italian by Ruth Feldman and Brian Swann

  You live secure
In your warm houses,
Who return at evening and 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 fog in winter

Consider that this has been:
I command 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.