For Holocaust Remembrance Day

Refugee Blues

By W.H. Auden

 

Say this city has ten million souls,

Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:

Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no place for us.

 

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,

Look in the atlas and you’ll find it there:

We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

 

In the village churchyard there grows an old yew,

Every spring it blossoms anew:

Old passports can’t do that, my dear, old passports can’t do that.

 

The consul banged the table and said,

“If you’ve got no passport you’re officially dead”:

But we’re still alive, my dear, we’re still alive.

 

Went to a committee; they offered me a chair;

Asked me politely to return next year:

But where shall we go today, my dear, but where shall we go today?

 

Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said;

“If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread”:

He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you and me.

 

Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;

It was Hitler over Europe, saying: “They must die”:

We were in his mind, my dear, we were in his mind.

 

Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened with a pin,

Saw a door opened and a cat let in:

But they weren’t German Jews, my dear, but they weren’t German Jews.

 

Went down to the harbour and stood on the quay,

Saw the fish swimming as if they were free:

Only ten feet away, my dear, only ten feet away.

 

Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees;

They had no politicians and sang at their ease:

They weren’t the human race, my dear, they weren’t the human race.

 

Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,

A thousand windows and a thousand doors:

Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.

 

Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;

Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:

Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me.

 

From Collected Shorter Poems 1927-1957, by W.H. Auden

Special thanks to my good friend Kathy Aleš for sharing this poem with me

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Upcoming Events

Book Signings

  • November 2, 2017: Annapolis Bookstore, Annapolis, MD (7:00 pm)
  • November 3-4, 2017: Georgetown University
  • November 14, 2017: Clemson University Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
  • March 9, 2018: Furman University Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (1:00 pm)
  • April 12, 2018: NC State University Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (1:15 pm)
  • April 25, 2018: Old Guard of Princeton, Princeton, NJ

People are talking


“Our lodge members greatly enjoyed the presentation and are still talking about it! As a matter of fact, we enjoyed the presentation so much that we requested an encore so that even more of our members could hear about this topic.”

- Ruth Campbell, President
Norsk Carolina Lodge, Charlotte, NC

On This Date

< 2017 >
November
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   1234
567891011
121314
  • Clemson University Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
15161718
19202122232425
26
  • Norwegian Jews deported to Auschwitz; most sent immediately to gas chambers
27282930  
Legend
  Previous/Upcoming Engagements
  This day in history

Recent Posts

< 2017 >
November
SMTWHFS
   1234
567891011
121314
  • Clemson University Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
15161718
19202122232425
26
  • Norwegian Jews deported to Auschwitz; most sent immediately to gas chambers
27282930  
Legend
  Previous/Upcoming Engagements
  This day in history

Upcoming Events

Book Signings

  • November 2, 2017: Annapolis Bookstore, Annapolis, MD (7:00 pm)
  • November 3-4, 2017: Georgetown University
  • November 14, 2017: Clemson University Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
  • March 9, 2018: Furman University Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (1:00 pm)
  • April 12, 2018: NC State University Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (1:15 pm)
  • April 25, 2018: Old Guard of Princeton, Princeton, NJ
< 2017 >
November
SMTWHFS
   1234
567891011
121314
  • Clemson University Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
15161718
19202122232425
26
  • Norwegian Jews deported to Auschwitz; most sent immediately to gas chambers
27282930  
Legend
  Previous/Upcoming Engagements
  This day in history