12. 26. 2016. 00:23

András Mezei: Christmas in Auschwitz

We put together a small selection of Yuletide texts with which we'd like to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season. The second piece is a poem by András Mezei translated from the Hungarian by Thomas Ország-Land.




Holding that child will cost your life,

young woman… a slave of the camp warned Mary

on the ramp, before the selection. Today

that advice resounds a thousandfold.





When Mengele sent off Mary

and the Child towards the left,

the Saviour was even born

in the Carpenter's empty arms.





This was the title piece of a collection of verse by András Mezei (1930-2008) exploring the Hungarian Holocaust, published in English translation by Smokestack Books/England in 2010. Poems from the book have been widely anthologized, used in stage shows and included in the teaching programmes of some British and American universities. Mezei, who survived the Nazi occupation of his native Budapest as a child, became an influential poet and publisher and a dominant voice of the post-Communist reconstruction after the collapse of Soviet rule a quarter century ago.



Thomas Ország-Land is an award-winning poet and foreign correspondent who writes from Europe and the Middle East. His last book was Survivors: Hungarian Jewish Poets of the Holocaust (Smokestack/England, 2014) and his last E-chapbook, Reading for Rush Hour: A Pamphlet in Praise of Passion (Snakeskin/England, 2016).


Translated by: Thomas Ország-Land

Tags: András Mezei, Thomas Ország-Land, poem