Jane Hirshfield, ‘Let Them Not Say’

Holocaust survivor Josiane Traum lights a memorial candle during an International Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Holocaust survivor Josiane Traum lights a memorial candle during an International Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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Let them not say:   we did not see it.
We saw.

Let them not say:   we did not hear it.
We heard.

Let them not say:   they did not taste it.
We ate, we trembled.

Let them not say:   it was not spoken, not written.
We spoke,
we witnessed with voices and hands.

Let them not say:   they did nothing.
We did not-enough.

Let them say, as they must say something:

A kerosene beauty.
It burned.

Let them say we warmed ourselves by it,
read by its light, praised,
and it burned.

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Jane Hirshfield’s most recent book is ‘The Beauty’ (Knopf, 2015). She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She appeared on KQED’s Forum in 2015.

Copyright © 2016 by Jane Hirshfield. All rights reserved. This poem is being shared by Poem-a-Day; for more, please visit www.poets.org.

Jane Hirshfield, ‘Let Them Not Say’ 30 January,2017KQED Arts

  • Naishi

    Thank you for this! and yes, these words are a candle…

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