Gertrud Kolmar
The Buried One

Like Emily Dickinson before her, this German-Jewish poetess expressed (not always, but frequently) very modern ideas in older forms of rhyme and rhythm. But her life was very unlike Dickinson's -- full of personal tragedies also of a modern cast. She was killed, somewhere in the death camps, sometime in 1943.

We followed, all of us, one aim,
Held by desire and the game.
What drove us on was Need's hard breath,
And what we got for pay, was Death.

Now I am laid out peacefully,
The cool earth gently covers me;
"I use and have," no more I own,
"I must and will," leave me alone.

In Light-land see Corruption go;
She dyes her clothes with indigo,
Puts one day fine, the next coarse, on
And builds the tower of Babylon.

She posts her image through the land,
On fence, wall, and newspaperstand.
Her hollow greed grabs, sneers defiance,
And calls itself Success and Science.

With insane deeds and murderous rage
She breaks each record of the age,
Roars in a coffin through her race --
When will she find the resting place?

She wins, and plays for higher stakes;
Until the grave at last awakes,
Once more yawns wide to fullest girth
And gently covers her with earth.