Spark by Hannah Senesh

Translated from the Hungarian & edited by

Thomas Ország-Land (July 2017)

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Hannah Senesh, 1921-1944, (Hungarian spelling Hanna Szenes), poet, farmer, soldier, emigrated as a youth to Palestine to escape rising Fascism in Europe, and eventually joined the British Army there. She was parachuted into partisan-held territory in Croatia from where she trekked to her native Hungary with a mission to rescue downed Allied aircrews and assist the Zionist resistance to the mass murder of Jews. She was betrayed, imprisoned, tortured and murdered. She is revered today as a war hero; and her songs, mostly about love, faith and nature, are sung the world over.
 
The following poem was its author's final testament.

 

SPARK

1

 

A spark burns out when she ignites a flame.

She is fulfilled in a flame igniting a blaze.

 

I would give all for a blaze to light up the hearts,

to light up the world, to raise a hope for life.

 

 

2

 

My cell: just seven steps by two. I can even tell

how long my life will last: two days at the least.

 

I won’t be 23 in July. I knew the risks.

The stakes were high. I played for life. I lost.

 

To comment on this poem, please click here.

____________________________________________

 

THOMAS ORSZÁG-LAND is a poet and award-winning foreign correspondent who writes for New English Review on Europe and the Middle East. His last book was Survivors: Hungarian Jewish Poets of the Holocaust (Smokestack, 2014) and his last E-chapbook, Reading for Rush Hour: A Pamphlet in Praise of Passion (Snakeskin, 2016), both in England. His work appears also in current issues of Acumen, Standpoint and The Transnational.

To help New English Review continue to publish translations of original poetry such as this, please click here.

If you enjoyed this poem and want to read more by Thomas Ország-Land, please click here. 

 


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