Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, IN RE SOLOMON WARSHAWER, by ABRAHAM MOSES KLEIN

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IN RE SOLOMON WARSHAWER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: On wodin's day, sixth of december,thirty-nine
Last Line: And further deponent saith not.
Alternate Author Name(s): Klein, A. M.
Subject(s): Jews; Judaism

On Wodin's day, sixth of December, thirty-nine,
I, Friedrich Vercingetorix, attached
to the VIIth Eavesdroppers-behind-the-line,
did cover my beat, when suddenly the crowd I watched
surrounded, in a cobbled lane one can't pass through,
a bearded man, disguised in rags, a Jew.

In the said crowd there were a number of Poles.
Mainly, however, there were Germans there;
blood-brothers of our Reich, true Aryan souls,
breathing at last—in Warsaw—Nordic air.

These were the words the Jew was shouting:
I took them down verbatim:
Whom have I hurt? Against whose silk have I brushed?
On which of your women looked too long?
I tell you I have done no wrong!
Send home your children, lifting hardened dung,
And let your curs be hushed!
For I am beard and breathless, and chased enough.
Leave me in peace, and let me go my way.

At this the good folk laughed. The Jew continued to say
he was no thief, he was a man for hire,
worked for his bread, artist or artisan,
a scribe, if you wished, a vendor or a buyer,
work of all kinds, and anything at all:
paint a mural, scour a latrine,
indite an ode, repair an old machine,
anything, to repeat,
anything at all,
so that he might eat
and have his straw couch in his abandoned stall.

Asked for his papers, he made a great to-do
of going through the holes in his rags, whence he withdrew
a Hebrew pamphlet and a signet ring,
herewith produced, Exhibits 1 and 2.

I said: No documents in a civilized tongue?
He replied:

Produce, O Lord, my wretched fingerprint,
Bring forth, O angel in the heavenly court,
My dossier, full, detailed, both fact and hint,
Felony, misdemeanor, tort!

I refused to be impressed by talk of that sort.

From further cross-examination, it appeared,
immediate history: a beggar in Berlin,
chased as a vagrant from the streets of Prague,
kept as a leper in forced quarantine,
shunned as the pest, avoided like a plague,
he had escaped, mysteriously come
by devious routes, and stolen frontiers, to
the nalewkas of Warsaw's sheenydom.

Pressed to reveal his foul identity,
He lied:
One of the anthropophagi was he,
or, if he wished, a denizen of Mars,
the ghost of my father, Conscience—aye
the spectre of Reason, naked, and with scars;
even became insulting, said he was
Aesop the slave among the animals. ...
Sir Incognito. ... Rabbi Alias. ...
The eldest elder of Zion. ... said we knew
his numerous varied oriental shapes,
even as we ought to know his present guise—
the man in the jungle, and beset by apes.

It was at this point the S.S. man arrived.
The Jew was interrupted; when he was revived,
He deposed as follows:

At low estate, a beggar, and in flight,
Still do I wear my pride like purple. I
Am undismayed by frenzy or by fright,
And you are the objects of my pitying eye.
For you are not the first that I have met—
O I have known them all
The dwarf dictators, the diminutive dukes,
The heads of straw, the hearts of gall,
Th' imperial plumes of eagles covering rooks!

It is not necessary to name names,
But it may serve anon,
Now to evoke from darkness some dark fames,
Armada'd Spain, that gilded jettison;
And Russia's last descended Romanov,
Descending a dark staircase
To a dank cellar at Ekaterinoslov;
The glory that was Babylon that now is gloom;
And Egypt, Egypt, scarcely now recalled
By that lone star that sentries Pharaoh's tomb;
And Carthage, founded on sand, by water walled;
And Greece—O broken marble!—
And disinterred unresurrected Rome.

These several dominions hunted me;
They all have wished, and more than wished, me dead;
And now, albeit I walk raggedly,
I walk; and they are echoes to my tread!

Is it by your devices I shall be undone?

Ah, but you are philosophers, and know
That what has been need not continue so;
The sun has risen; and the sun has set;
Risen again, again descended, yet
To-morrow no bright sun may rise to throw
Rays of inductive reason on Judaeophobic foe.

Is there great turmoil in the sparrow's nest
When that bright bird, the Sun, descends the west?
There is no fear, there is no twittering;
At dawn they will again behold his brightly plumaged wing!
Such is the very pattern of the world,
Even the sparrows understand;
And in that scheme of things I am enfurled,
Am part thereof, the whole as it was planned,
With increase and abatement rife,
Subject to sorrow, joined to joy—
Earth, its relenting and recurring life!

Aye, but the signet ring, the signet ring!
Since you must know, barbarian, know you shall!
I who now stand before you, a hunted thing
Pressed and pursued and harried hither and yon,
I was, I am the Emperor Solomon!
O, to and fro upon the face of the earth,
I wandered, crying, "Ani Shlomo," but—
But no one believed my birth.

For he now governs in my place and stead,
He who did fling me from Jerusalem
Four hundred parasangs;
Who stole the crown from off my head,
And robed him in my robes, beneath whose hem
The feet of the cock extend, the tail of the demon hangs!

Mistake me not: I am no virtuous saint;
Only a man, and like all men, not godly,
Damned by desire—
But I at least waged war, for holy booty,
Against my human taint;
At least sought wisdom, to discern the good;
Whether of men, or birds, or beasts of the wood;
Spread song, spread justice; ever did aspire—
Howbeit, man among men, I failed—
To lay the plan, and work upon the plan
To build the temple of the more-than-man!

But he, the unspeakable prince of malice!
Usurper of my throne, pretender to the Lord's!
Wicked, demoniac, lycanthropous
Leader of hosts horrific, barbarous hordes,
Master of the worm, pernicious, that cleaves rocks,
The beast that talks,

Who has not heard the plight of his domain?
Learning is banished to the hidden cave,
Wisdom decried, a virtue of the slave,
And justice, both eyes seared, goes tapping with a cane.

His counselor is the wolf. He counsels hate.
His sceptre is a claw.
And love is a high crime against the state.
The fury of the forest
Is the law.

Upon his charnel-throne, in bloodied purple,
Hearkening to that music where the sigh
Pauses to greet the groan, the groan the anguished cry,
Asmodeus sits;
And I—

At this point the S.S. men departed.
The Jew was not revived. He was carried and carted,
and to his present gaoler brought;
awaiting higher pleasure.
And further deponent saith not.

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