Charles Reznikoff

C
Charles Reznikoff
By the Well of Living and Seeing, Part II, Section 28: “During the Second World War”
During the Second World War, I was going home one night
along a street I seldom used. All the stores were closed
except one—a small fruit store.
An old Italian was inside to wait on customers.
As I was paying him I saw that he was sad.
Read Poem
0
49
Rating:

The Lamps Are Burning
“The lamps are burning in the synagogue,
in the houses of study, in dark alleys. . . .”
This should be the place.

This is the way
the guide book describes it. Excuse me, sir
can you tell me
where Eli lives, Eli the katzev—
slaughterer of cattle and poultry?
Read Poem
0
32
Rating:

A Short History of Israel, Notes and Glosses

XI
A hundred generations, yes, a hundred and twenty-five,
had the strength each day
not to eat this and that (unclean!)
not to say this and that,
not to do this and that (unjust!),
and with all this and all that
Read Poem
0
39
Rating:

Autobiography: New York
I

It is not to be bought for a penny
in the candy store, nor picked
from the bushes in the park. It may be found, perhaps,
in the ashes on the distant lots,
among the rusting cans and Jimpson weeds.
If you wish to eat fish freely,
cucumbers and melons,
Read Poem
0
56
Rating:

Jews in Babylonia, Part 4: “The bread has become moldy”
The bread has become moldy
and the dates blown down by the wind;
the iron has slipped from the helve.
The wool was to by dyed red
but the dyer dyed it black.

The dead woman has forgotten her comb
and tube of eye-paint;
the dead cobbler has forgotten his knife,
Read Poem
0
22
Rating:

Deerfield:1703
Before the break of day the minister was awakened
by the sound of hatchets
breaking open the door and windows.
He ran towards the door:
about twenty Indians with painted faces
were coming into the house
howling.

Three Indians took hold of him,
Read Poem
0
32
Rating:

Depression
So proudly she came into the subway car
all who were not reading their newspapers saw
the head high and the slow tread—
coat wrinkled and her belongings in a paper bag,
face unwashed and the grey hair uncombed;

simple soul, who so early in the morning when only the
poorest go to work,
stood up in the subway and outshouting the noise:
Read Poem
0
29
Rating:

A Deserter
Their new landlord was a handsome man. On his rounds to
collect rent she became friendly.
Finally, she asked him in to have a cup of tea. After that he
came often.

Once his mouth jerked, and turning, she saw her husband in
the doorway.
She thought, One of the neighbors must have told him.
She smiled and opened her mouth to speak, but could say
Read Poem
0
40
Rating:

The English in Virginia, April 1607
They landed and could
see nothing but
meadows and tall
trees—
cypress, nearly three
fathoms about at the
roots,
rising straight for
Read Poem
0
28
Rating:

Ghetto Funeral
Followed by his lodge, shabby men stumbling over the
cobblestones,
and his children, faces red and ugly with tears, eyes and
eyelids red,
in the black coffin in the black hearse the old man.

No longer secretly grieving
that his children are not strong enough to go the way he
wanted to go
Read Poem
0
39
Rating:

His father carved umbrella handles...
His father carved umbrella handles, but when umbrella
handles were made by machinery, there was only one
man for whom his father could work.
The pay was small, though it had once been a good trade.
They lived in the poorest part of the ghetto, near the lots
where people dump ashes.
His father was anxious that his son should stay at school and
get out of the mess he himself was in. “Learning is the
Read Poem
0
36
Rating:

His mother stepped about her kitchen ...
His mother stepped about her kitchen, complaining in a low
voice;
all day his father sat stooped at a sewing machine.
When he went to high school Webber was in his class.
Webber lived in a neighborhood where the houses are set in
lawns with trees beside the gutters.
The boys who live there, after school, take their skates and
hockey sticks and play in the streets until nightfall.
Read Poem
0
36
Rating:

from By the Well of Living and Seeing, Part III, Section 11: “The house in which we now lived was old”
The house in which we now lived was old—
dark rooms and low ceilings.
Once our maid, who happened to be Hungarian,
reached her hand up into the cupboard for a dish
and touched a dead rat
that had crawled there to die—poisoned, no doubt.
“Disgusting, disgusting,” she kept saying in German
and, to my amusement, shuddered whenever she thought of it.
Read Poem
0
40
Rating:

from By the Well of Living and Seeing, Part II, Section 18: “I saw him walking along slowly at night”
I saw him walking along slowly at night
holding a tray of candy and chewing-gum:
a Jewish boy of fifteen or sixteen
with large black eyes and a gentle face.
He sidled into a saloon
and must have been ordered away
because he came out promptly
through the swinging doors.
Read Poem
0
31
Rating:

Inscriptions, 16: "The lamps are burning in the synagogue"
“The lamps are burning in the synagogue,
in the houses of study, in dark alleys. . .”
This should be the place.
This is the way
the guide-book describes it. Excuse me, sir,
can you tell me
where Eli lives, Eli the katzev—
slaughterer of cattle and poultry?
Read Poem
0
30
Rating:

from By the Well of Living and Seeing, Part II, Section 1: “Leaving the beach on a Sunday in a streetcar”
Leaving the beach on a Sunday in a streetcar
a family of three—mother, son and daughter:
the mother, well on in the thirties, blond hair, worried face;
the son, twelve years of age or so, seated opposite,
and the daughter, about eight or nine, beside her.
The boy was blond, too; a good-looking little fellow
with dreamy eyes. The little girl was quite plain;
mouth pulled down at the corners,
Read Poem
0
37
Rating:

New Nation
I
Land of Refuge

A mountain of white ice
standing still
in the water
here forty fathoms deep
and flowing swiftly
from the north;
Read Poem
0
61
Rating:

Night-Piece
I saw within the shadows of the yard the shed
and saw the snow upon its roof—
an oblong glowing in the moonlit night.

I could not rest or close my eyes,
although I knew that I must rise
early next morning and begin my work again,
and begin my work again.

That day was lost—that month as well;
Read Poem
0
30
Rating:

Passing the shop after school...
Passing the shop after school, he would look up at the sign
and go on, glad that his own life had to do with books.
Now at night when he saw the grey in his parents’ hair and
heard their talk of that day’s worries and the next:
lack of orders, if orders, lack of workers, if workers, lack of
goods, if there were workers and goods, lack of orders
again,
for the tenth time he said, “I’m going in with you: there’s more
Read Poem
0
38
Rating:

Slave Sale: New Orleans
To begin with, the slaves had to wash themselves well,
and the men who had beards had to shave them off;
the men were then given a new suit each,
cheap but clean, and a hat, shirt, and shoes;
and the women were each given a frock of calico
and a handkerchief to tie about their heads.
They were then led by the man selling them into a large room;
the men placed on one side, the women at the other;
Read Poem
0
38
Rating:

A Son with a Future
When he was four years old, he stood at the window during a
thunderstorm. His father, a tailor, sat on the table sewing.
He came up to his father and said, “I know what makes
thunder: two clouds knock together.”
When he was older, he recited well-known rants at parties.
They all said that he would be a lawyer.
At law school he won a prize for an essay. Afterwards, he
became the chum of an only son of rich people. They
Read Poem
0
38
Rating:

Spain: Anno 1492
Torquemada. Now that Castile and Aragon in holy wedlock
are Spain,
and the last city of the Moors in Spain is Spanish
except for Moor and Jew—
about every crucifix in every market-place
and in the court itself the Jews!—
as seven centuries of Christian valor, Christian piety
triumph
Read Poem
0
30
Rating:

Domestic Scenes
1

It was nearly daylight when she gave birth to the child,
lying on a quilt
he had doubled up for her.
He put the child on his left arm
and took it out of the room,
and she could hear the splashing water.
When he came back
Read Poem
0
48
Rating:

Negroes
1

One night in April or May,
his daughter saw someone's hand
make the curtain which was drawn tightly across her window bulge
and ran to the adjoining room in her night clothes
where he and his son were sitting.
He ran around the house one way
and his son ran the other way
Read Poem
0
49
Rating: