Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Hollow Men at Dachau

T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men" (excerpt)

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death's dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind's singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death's dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field 
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer--

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river
Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death's twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

Good poetry says more than words can express. 

Dachau itself exudes sadness, pain, loneliness, fear, conformity, cruelty, hypocrisy, infamy: the worst of humanity. But in the midst of all evil, glimmers of hope and love always exist. The hope that we never allow uniform hatred such power again. The hope that we remember the small (to us in our cushioned world, but huge in their oppressive world) acts of kindness and selflessness. The hope that we not only decry cruelty and discrimination by others, but hold ourselves accountable to never portray the same message, even if on a minuscule level.

Just as the potential for unimaginable depravity exists in us all, the potential for courage, kindness, generosity, compassion, and empathy also exists in us all. We must choose, whether we want to or not. Daily, hourly. Be inspired to love.

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