Etty Hillesum (who died at Auschwitz in 1943 at the age of 29)
"The misery here is quite terrible; and yet, late at night when the day has slunk away
into the depths behind me, I often walk with a spring in my step along the barbed wire.
And then time and again, it soars straight from my heart –
I can’t help it, that’s just the way it is,
like some elementary force – the feeling that life is glorious and magnificent,
and that one day we shall be building a whole new world.
Against every new outrage and every fresh horror, we shall put up
one more piece of love and goodness,
drawing strength from within ourselves.
We may suffer, but we must not succumb..."
from An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westerbork
The Love of Morning
It is hard sometimes
to drag ourselves back to the love of morning
after we’ve lain in the dark
crying out O God, save us from the horror . . .
God has saved the world one more day
even with its leaden burden of human evil;
we wake to birdsong.
And if sunlight’s gossamer lifts in its net
the weight of all that is solid,
our hearts, too, are lifted,
swung like laughing infants;
but on grey mornings, all incident –
our own hunger, the dear tasks of continuance,
the footsteps before us in the earth’s beloved dust,
leading the way – all, is hard to love again
for we resent a summons that disregards our sloth,
and this calls us, calls us.