To Those Of You Building Your New House


When you raise your new walls –
Your hearth, your bed, your table and chair –
Don’t hang your tears around those who are gone
And no longer will be living with you
On the stone
Not on the wood –
Or there will be crying in your sleep,
The short sleep that is yet to come.

Do not sigh when you spread your sheet
Or your dreams will be mixed
With the sweat of the dead.

Ah, the walls and tools
Are as keen as wind chimes
And like a field where your suffering grows
Feeling akin to the dust within you.
Build while the hourglass runs
But do not weep the minutes away
With the dust
That hides the light.

O night of weeping children!
Night of death-doomed children!
Sleep finds no way in any more –

Dreadful wardens
have taken mother’s place
have grasped false death in their hand muscles
sowing it into the walls and beams –

Everywhere it breeds in the nests of horror.
Fear feeds the little ones instead of their mother’s milk.

Only yesterday mother
like a pale moon brought them sleep
the much-kissed rosy-cheeked doll lay
in one arm
the stuffed toy, made alive
by a surfeit of love
in the other, –
now the wind of death blows,
wafts their nightgowns away over the hair
that no one will ever comb again.

English: Sculpture by Ursula Malbin in the Hai...

Sculpture by Ursula Malbin in the Haifa Sculpture Garden “Vista Of Peace” (“Mizpor Shalom”), depicting a girl holding a stuffed toy bear and a flower. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

AN EUCH, DIE DAS NEUE HAUS BAUEN

Wenn du dir deine Wände neu aufrichtest –
Deinen Herd, Schlafstatt, Tisch und Stuhl –
Hänge nicht deine Tränen um sie, die dahingegangen,
Die nicht mehr mit dir wohnen werden
An den Stein
Nicht an das Holz –
Es weint sonst in deinen Schlaf hinein,
Des kurzen, den du noch tun mußt.

Seufze nicht, wenn du dein Laken bettest,
Es mischen sich sonst deine Träume
Mit dem Schweiß der Toten.

Ach, es sind die Wände und die Geräte
Wie die Windharfen empfänglich
Und wie ein Acker, darin dein Leid wächst,
Und spüren das Staubverwandte in dir.

Baue, wenn die Stundenuhr rieselt,
Aber weine nicht die Minuten fort
Mit dem Staub zusammen,
Der das Licht verdeckt.

O, der weinenden Kinder Nacht!
Der zum Tode gezeichneten Kinder Nacht!
Der Schlaf hat keinen Eingang mehr.

Schreckliche Wärterinnen
sind an die Stelle der Mütter getreten,
haben den falschen Tod in ihre Handmuskeln gespannt,
säen ihn in die Wände und ins Gebälk –

überall brütet es in den Nestern des Grauens.
Angst säugt die Kleinen statt der Muttermilch.

Zog die Mutter noch gestern
wie ein weißer Mond den Schlaf heran,
kam die Puppe mit dem fortgeküßten Wangenrot
in den einen Arm,
kam das ausgestopfte Tier, lebendig
in der Liebe schon geworden,
in den andern Arm, –
weht nun der Wind des Sterbens,
bläst die Hemden über die Haare fort,
die niemand mehr kämmen wird.

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3 thoughts on “To Those Of You Building Your New House

  1. This poem represents so much more than building a new house, it is about building a new life. It starts out by telling you not to over grieve about those that are gone and not with you anymore. It says that it is okay and that you are going to have sleepless nights. In the third verse , the poem states about the elements that built the house, the walls and tools and that not to sigh every minute of the day . That it is okay to be happy. Later on in the poem it shows the remains of what was there and everything that she sees which happens to be a doll that before the Holocaust was there, was held together by love, but now is never loved again.

  2. I think the poem “To Those of you Building Your New House” is about someone missing something old. As they do something new in the new house, it brings back memories of good things that are gone now. An example is when they are spreading the sheet. This house is like a haunted house, everywhere you go there’s something bad. It says to not sigh or you dreams will be mixed with the sweat of the dead. I think this means that if they’re sad while making their new bed, then that bed will be full of the sadness from the dead, and since she sleeps there, her dreams will be mixed with that.

  3. Surfeit
    Definition an amount that is too much or more than you need
    Etymology it comes from the French word sorfet meaning excess
    Synonyms are glut and surplus

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