Hedy & Heine

The year after Mev died
I read a lot of literature–
Poetry, novels, plays

One volume I took refuge in
Was a bi-lingual edition of
Heine’s Songs of Love & Grief

I have a favorite poem therein
And have shared it with friends
Even previously posted it on Facebook

A couple weeks ago
I carried the book with me
As I went to visit Hedy

We chatted, gossiped and laughed
An hour flew by
Then I remembered Heine

“Hedy, would you be willing to read
my favorite Heinrich Heine poem
For me in German?

See, I brought my digital tape recorder”
I handed her the book to the page of the poem
She looked up, startled:

“This is your favorite poem?” she asked
“Yep, has been for years”
“This is the very poem my father quoted from memory

In the last letter he sent me
From the concentration camp in France
Before he was sent to Poland”

And this is what Hedy read for me:
Lines lodged in Mr. Wachenheimer’s memory
A kind of prayer to his beloved daughter…

Du bist wie eine Blume,
So hold und schön und rein;
Ich schau dich an, und Wehmut
Schleicht mir ins Herz hinein.

Mir ist, als ob ich die Hände
Aufs Haupt dir liegen sollt,
Betend, daß Gott dich erhalte
So rein und schön und hold.

You blossom like a flower,
So fair and pure and whole;
I gaze at you, and sadness
Steals into my soul.

I feel I should be laying
My hands upon your hair,
Praying that God may preserve you
So whole and pure and fair.

–translated by Walter W. Arndt

Hedy & Heine

Hedy gained a place on a children’s transport to Britain in 1939. Her parents were killed at Auschwitz in 1942.

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