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Best Famous Holocaust Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Holocaust poems. This is a select list of the best famous Holocaust poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Holocaust poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of holocaust poems.

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by John Greenleaf Whittier |

Burning Drift-Wood

Before my drift-wood fire I sit, 
And see, with every waif I burn, 
Old dreams and fancies coloring it, 
And folly's unlaid ghosts return.
O ships of mine, whose swift keels cleft The enchanted sea on which they sailed, Are these poor fragments only left Of vain desires and hopes that failed? Did I not watch from them the light Of sunset on my towers in Spain, And see, far off, uploom in sight The Fortunate Isles I might not gain? Did sudden lift of fog reveal Arcadia's vales of song and spring, And did I pass, with grazing keel, The rocks whereon the sirens sing? Have I not drifted hard upon The unmapped regions lost to man, The cloud-pitched tents of Prester John, The palace domes of Kubla Khan? Did land winds blow from jasmine flowers, Where Youth the ageless Fountain fills? Did Love make sign from rose blown bowers, And gold from Eldorado's hills? Alas! the gallant ships, that sailed On blind Adventure's errand sent, Howe'er they laid their courses, failed To reach the haven of Content.
And of my ventures, those alone Which Love had freighted, safely sped, Seeking a good beyond my own, By clear-eyed Duty piloted.
O mariners, hoping still to meet The luck Arabian voyagers met, And find in Bagdad's moonlit street, Haroun al Raschid walking yet, Take with you, on your Sea of Dreams, The fair, fond fancies dear to youth.
I turn from all that only seems, And seek the sober grounds of truth.
What matter that it is not May, That birds have flown, and trees are bare, That darker grows the shortening day, And colder blows the wintry air! The wrecks of passion and desire, The castles I no more rebuild, May fitly feed my drift-wood fire, And warm the hands that age has chilled.
Whatever perished with my ships, I only know the best remains; A song of praise is on my lips For losses which are now my gains.
Heap high my hearth! No worth is lost; No wisdom with the folly dies.
Burn on, poor shreds, your holocaust Shall be my evening sacrifice! Far more than all I dared to dream, Unsought before my door I see; On wings of fire and steeds of steam The world's great wonders come to me, And holier signs, unmarked before, Of Love to seek and Power to save,— The righting of the wronged and poor, The man evolving from the slave; And life, no longer chance or fate, Safe in the gracious Fatherhood.
I fold o'er-wearied hands and wait, In full assurance of the good.
And well the waiting time must be, Though brief or long its granted days, If Faith and Hope and Charity Sit by my evening hearth-fire's blaze.
And with them, friends whom Heaven has spared, Whose love my heart has comforted, And, sharing all my joys, has shared My tender memories of the dead,— Dear souls who left us lonely here, Bound on their last, long voyage, to whom We, day by day, are drawing near, Where every bark has sailing room.
I know the solemn monotone Of waters calling unto me; I know from whence the airs have blown That whisper of the Eternal Sea.
As low my fires of drift-wood burn, I hear that sea's deep sounds increase, And, fair in sunset light, discern Its mirage-lifted Isles of Peace.


by Mark Twain |

A Sweltering Day In Australia

 The Bombola faints in the hot Bowral tree, 
Where fierce Mullengudgery's smothering fires 
Far from the breezes of Coolgardie 
Burn ghastly and blue as the day expires; 

And Murriwillumba complaineth in song 
For the garlanded bowers of Woolloomooloo, 
And the Ballarat Fly and the lone Wollongong 
They dream of the gardens of Jamberoo; 

The wallabi sighs for the Murrubidgee, 
For the velvety sod of the Munno Parah, 
Where the waters of healing from Muloowurtie 
Flow dim in the gloaming by Yaranyackah; 

The Koppio sorrows for lost Wolloway, 
And sigheth in secret for Murrurundi, 
The Whangeroo wombat lamenteth the day 
That made him an exile from Jerrilderie; 

The Teawamute Tumut from Wirrega's glade, 
The Nangkita swallow, the Wallaroo swan, 
They long for the peace of the Timaru shade 
And thy balmy soft airs, O sweet Mittagong! 

The Kooringa buffalo pants in the sun, 
The Kondoparinga lies gaping for breath, 
The Kongorong Camaum to the shadow has won, 
But the Goomeroo sinks in the slumber of death; 

In the weltering hell of the Moorooroo plain 
The Yatala Wangary withers and dies, 
And the Worrow Wanilla, demented with pain, 
To the Woolgoolga woodlands despairingly flies; 

Sweet Nangwarry's desolate, Coonamble wails, 
And Tungkillo Kuito in sables is drest, 
For the Whangerei winds fall asleep in the sails 
And the Booleroo life-breeze is dead in the west.
Mypongo, Kapunda, O slumber no more Yankalilla, Parawirra, be warned There's death in the air! Killanoola, wherefore Shall the prayer of Penola be scorned? Cootamundra, and Takee, and Wakatipu, Toowoomba, Kaikoura are lost From Onkaparinga to far Oamaru All burn in this hell's holocaust! Paramatta and Binnum are gone to their rest In the vale of Tapanni Taroom, Kawakawa, Deniliquin - all that was best In the earth are but graves and a tomb! Narrandera mourns, Cameron answers not When the roll of the scathless we cry Tongariro, Goondiwindi, Woolundunga, the spot Is mute and forlorn where ye lie.


by Kathleen Raine |

Millenial Hymn to Lord Shiva

 Earth no longer
hymns the Creator,
the seven days of wonder,
the Garden is over —
all the stories are told,
the seven seals broken
all that begins
must have its ending,
our striving, desiring,
our living and dying,
for Time, the bringer
of abundant days
is Time the destroyer —
In the Iron Age
the Kali Yuga
To whom can we pray
at the end of an era
but the Lord Shiva,
the Liberator, the purifier?

Our forests are felled,
our mountains eroded,
the wild places
where the beautiful animals
found food and sanctuary
we have desolated,
a third of our seas,
a third of our rivers
we have polluted
and the sea-creatures dying.
Our civilization’s blind progress in wrong courses through wrong choices has brought us to nightmare where what seems, is, to the dreamer, the collective mind of the twentieth century — this world of wonders not divine creation but a big bang of blind chance, purposeless accident, mother earth’s children, their living and loving, their delight in being not joy but chemistry, stimulus, reflex, valueless, meaningless, while to our machines we impute intelligence, in computers and robots we store information and call it knowledge, we seek guidance by dialling numbers, pressing buttons, throwing switches, in place of family our companions are shadows, cast on a screen, bodiless voices, fleshless faces, where was the Garden a Disney-land of virtual reality, in place of angels the human imagination is peopled with foot-ballers film-stars, media-men, experts, know-all television personalities, animated puppets with cartoon faces — To whom can we pray for release from illusion, from the world-cave, but Time the destroyer, the liberator, the purifier? The curse of Midas has changed at a touch, a golden handshake earthly paradise to lifeless matter, where once was seed-time, summer and winter, food-chain, factory farming, monocrops for supermarkets, pesticides, weed-killers birdless springs, endangered species, battery-hens, hormone injections, artificial insemination, implants, transplants, sterilization, surrogate births, contraception, cloning, genetic engineering, abortion, and our days shall be short in the land we have sown with the Dragon’s teeth where our armies arise fully armed on our killing-fields with land-mines and missiles, tanks and artillery, gas-masks and body-bags, our air-craft rain down fire and destruction, our space-craft broadcast lies and corruption, our elected parliaments parrot their rhetoric of peace and democracy while the truth we deny returns in our dreams of Armageddon, the death-wish, the arms-trade, hatred and slaughter profitable employment of our thriving cities, the arms-race to the end of the world of our postmodern, post-Christian, post-human nations, progress to the nihil of our spent civilization.
But cause and effect, just and inexorable law of the universe no fix of science, nor amenable god can save from ourselves the selves we have become — At the end of history to whom can we pray but to the destroyer, the liberator, the purifier? In the beginning the stars sang together the cosmic harmony, but Time, imperceptible taker-away of all that has been, all that will be, our heart-beat your drum, our dance of life your dance of death in the crematorium, our high-rise dreams, Valhalla, Utopia, Xanadu, Shangri-la, world revolution Time has taken, and soon will be gone Cambridge, Princeton and M.
I.
T.
, Nalanda, Athens and Alexandria all for the holocaust of civilization — To whom shall we pray when our vision has faded but the world-destroyer, the liberator, the purifier? But great is the realm of the world-creator, the world-sustainer from whom we come, in whom we move and have our being, about us, within us the wonders of wisdom, the trees and the fountains, the stars and the mountains, all the children of joy, the loved and the known, the unknowable mystery to whom we return through the world-destroyer, — Holy, holy at the end of the world the purging fire of the purifier, the liberator!


by Kathleen Raine |

Paradise Seed

 Where is the seed 
Of the tree felled, 
Of the forest burned, 
Or living root 
Under ash and cinders? 
From woven bud 
What last leaf strives 
Into life, last 
Shrivelled flower?
Is fruit of our harvest,
Our long labour
Dust to the core?
To what far, fair land 
Borne on the wind 
What winged seed 
Or spark of fire 
From holocaust 
To kindle a star?


by Anne Killigrew |

Upon the saying that my VERSES were made by another.

 NExt Heaven my Vows to thee (O Sacred Muse! ) 
I offer'd up, nor didst thou them refuse.
O Queen of Verse, said I, if thou'lt inspire, And warm my Soul with thy Poetique Fire, No Love of Gold shall share with thee my Heart, Or yet Ambition in my Brest have Part, More Rich, more Noble I will ever hold The Muses Laurel, than a Crown of Gold.
An Undivided Sacrifice I'le lay Upon thine Altar, Soul and Body pay; Thou shalt my Pleasure, my Employment be, My All I'le make a Holocaust to thee.
The Deity that ever does attend Prayers so sincere, to mine did condescend.
I writ, and the Judicious prais'd my Pen: Could any doubt Insuing Glory then ? What pleasing Raptures fill'd my Ravisht Sense ? How strong, how Sweet, Fame, was thy Influence ? And thine, False Hope, that to my flatter'd sight Didst Glories represent so Near, and Bright ? By thee deceiv'd, methought, each Verdant Tree, Apollos transform'd Daphne seem'd to be; And ev'ry fresher Branch, and ev'ry Bow Appear'd as Garlands to empale my Brow.
The Learn'd in Love say, Thus the Winged Boy Does first approach, drest up in welcome Joy; At first he to the Cheated Lovers sight Nought represents, but Rapture and Delight, Alluring Hopes, Soft Fears, which stronger bind Their Hearts, than when they more assurance find.
Embolden'd thus, to Fame I did commit, (By some few hands) my most Unlucky Wit.
But, ah, the sad effects that from it came ! What ought t'have brought me Honour, brought me shame ! Like Esops Painted Jay I seem'd to all, Adorn'd in Plumes, I not my own could call: Rifl'd like her, each one my Feathers tore, And, as they thought, unto the Owner bore.
My Laurels thus an Others Brow adorn'd, My Numbers they Admir'd, but Me they scorn'd: An others Brow, that had so rich a store Of Sacred Wreaths, that circled it before; Where mine quite lost, (like a small stream that ran Into a Vast and Boundless Ocean) Was swallow'd up, with what it joyn'd and drown'd, And that Abiss yet no Accession found.
Orinda, (Albions and her Sexes Grace) Ow'd not her Glory to a Beauteous Face, It was her Radiant Soul that shon With-in, Which struk a Lustre through her Outward Skin; That did her Lips and Cheeks with Roses dy, Advanc't her Height, and Sparkled in her Eye.
Nor did her Sex at all obstruct her Fame, But higher 'mong the Stars it fixt her Name; What she did write, not only all allow'd, But ev'ry Laurel, to her Laurel, bow'd ! Th'Envious Age, only to Me alone, Will not allow, what I do write, my Own, But let 'em Rage, and 'gainst a Maide Conspire, So Deathless Numbers from my Tuneful Lyre Do ever flow; so Phebus I by thee Divinely Inspired and possest may be; I willingly accept Cassandras Fate, To speak the Truth, although believ'd too late


by Carolyn Forche |

The Testimony Of Light

 Our life is a fire dampened, or a fire shut up in stone.
--Jacob Boehme, De Incarnatione Verbi Outside everything visible and invisible a blazing maple.
Daybreak: a seam at the curve of the world.
The trousered legs of the women shimmered.
They held their arms in front of them like ghosts.
The coal bones of the house clinked in a kimono of smoke.
An attention hovered over the dream where the world had been.
For if Hiroshima in the morning, after the bomb has fallen, is like a dream, one must ask whose dream it is.
{1} Must understand how not to speak would carry it with us.
With bones put into rice bowls.
While the baby crawled over its dead mother seeking milk.
Muga-muchu {2}: without self, without center.
Thrown up in the sky by a wind.
The way back is lost, the one obsession.
The worst is over.
The worst is yet to come.
1--.
.
.
is the question asked by Peter Schwenger in Letter Bomb.
Nuclear Holocaust and the Exploding Word.
2--.
.
.
is from Robert Jay Lifton's Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima.


by Charlotte Bronte |

Passion

 SOME have won a wild delight,
By daring wilder sorrow;
Could I gain thy love to-night,
I'd hazard death to-morrow.
Could the battle-struggle earn One kind glance from thine eye, How this withering heart would burn, The heady fight to try ! Welcome nights of broken sleep, And days of carnage cold, Could I deem that thou wouldst weep To hear my perils told.
Tell me, if with wandering bands I roam full far away, Wilt thou, to those distant lands, In spirit ever stray ? Wild, long, a trumpet sounds afar; Bid me­bid me go Where Seik and Briton meet in war, On Indian Sutlej's flow.
Blood has dyed the Sutlej's waves With scarlet stain, I know; Indus' borders yawn with graves, Yet, command me go ! Though rank and high the holocaust Of nations, steams to heaven, Glad I'd join the death-doomed host, Were but the mandate given.
Passion's strength should nerve my arm, Its ardour stir my life, Till human force to that dread charm Should yield and sink in wild alarm, Like trees to tempest-strife.
If, hot from war, I seek thy love, Darest thou turn aside ? Darest thou, then, my fire reprove, By scorn, and maddening pride ? No­my will shall yet control Thy will, so high and free, And love shall tame that haughty soul­ Yes­tenderest love for me.
I'll read my triumph in thine eyes, Behold, and prove the change; Then leave, perchance, my noble prize, Once more in arms to range.
I'd die when all the foam is up, The bright wine sparkling high; Nor wait till in the exhausted cup Life's dull dregs only lie.
Then Love thus crowned with sweet reward, Hope blest with fulness large, I'd mount the saddle, draw the sword, And perish in the charge!


by Laure-Anne Bosselaar |

The Worlds in this World

 Doors were left open in heaven again: 
drafts wheeze, clouds wrap their ripped pages 
around roofs and trees.
Like wet flags, shutters flap and fold.
Even light is blown out of town, its last angles caught in sopped newspaper wings and billowing plastic — all this in one American street.
Elsewhere, somewhere, a tide recedes, incense is lit, an infant sucks from a nipple, a grenade shrieks, a man buys his first cane.
Think of it: the worlds in this world.
Yesterday, while a Chinese woman took hours to sew seven silk stitches into a tapestry started generations ago, guards took only seconds to mop up a cannibal’s brain from the floor of a Wisconsin jail, while the man who bashed the killer’s head found no place to hide, and sat sobbing for his mother in a shower stall — the worlds in this world.
Or say, one year — say 1916: while my grandfather, a prisoner of war in Holland, sewed perfect, eighteen-buttoned booties for his wife with the skin of a dead dog found in a trench; shrapnel slit Apollinaire's skull, Jesuits brandished crucifixes in Ouagadougou, and the Parthenon was already in ruins.
That year, thousands and thousands of Jews from the Holocaust were already — were still ¬— busy living their lives; while gnawed by self-doubt, Rilke couldn’t write a line for weeks inVienna’s Victorgasse, and fishermen drowned off Finnish coasts, and lovers kissed for the very first time, while in Kashmir an old woman fell asleep, her cheek on her good husband's belly.
And all along that year the winds kept blowing as they do today, above oceans and steeples, and this one speck of dust was lifted from somewhere to land exactly here, on my desk, and will lift again — into the worlds in this world.
Say now, at this instant: one thornless rose opens in a blue jar above that speck, but you — reading this — know nothing of how it came to flower here, and I nothing of who bred it, or where, nothing of my son and daughter’s fate, of what grows in your garden or behind the walls of your chest: is it longing? Fear? Will it matter? Listen to that wind, listen to it ranting The doors of heaven never close, that’s the Curse, that’s the Miracle.


by Yehuda Amichai |

Tourists

 Visits of condolence is all we get from them.
They squat at the Holocaust Memorial, They put on grave faces at the Wailing Wall And they laugh behind heavy curtains In their hotels.
They have their pictures taken Together with our famous dead At Rachel's Tomb and Herzl's Tomb And on Ammunition Hill.
They weep over our sweet boys And lust after our tough girls And hang up their underwear To dry quickly In cool, blue bathrooms.
Once I sat on the steps by agate at David's Tower, I placed my two heavy baskets at my side.
A group of tourists was standing around their guide and I became their target marker.
"You see that man with the baskets? Just right of his head there's an arch from the Roman period.
Just right of his head.
" "But he's moving, he's moving!" I said to myself: redemption will come only if their guide tells them, "You see that arch from the Roman period? It's not important: but next to it, left and down a bit, there sits a man who's bought fruit and vegetables for his family.
"


by Sylvia Plath |

Marys Song

 The Sunday lamb cracks in its fat.
The fat Sacrifices its opacity.
.
.
.
A window, holy gold.
The fire makes it precious, The same fire Melting the tallow heretics, Ousting the Jews.
Their thick palls float Over the cicatrix of Poland, burnt-out Germany.
They do not die.
Grey birds obsess my heart, Mouth-ash, ash of eye.
They settle.
On the high Precipice That emptied one man into space The ovens glowed like heavens, incandescent.
It is a heart, This holocaust I walk in, O golden child the world will kill and eat.