In Memoriam Primo Levi by Nick Cooke

I am not a silent poet

A sequence inspired by “If This Is A Man” 

1. Campo di Fossoli, 21.2.44

“…e perfino i maestri e i professori della piccola scuola tennero lezione a sera, come ogni giorno. Ma ai bambini quella sera non fu assegnato compito.”

No homework that night. And did the teachers,
Stubbornly cramming their heads full of Dante,
Also pack blackboards, chalk, or even canes?
Quo vadis. Towards what education
And what philosophy lead these wagons –
We ask, and in a sense receive an answer,
Though at this unenlightened point the name
Bears not one fraction of its later fame.
At an idle guess it could almost be
Some Alpine ski-town, where the ice-breathed lips
Of relieved officials and their sturdy dames
Stain the air with laughter. Or do we dream?

Agape at the Brenner Pass in silent awe
One tends to hear the snapping of the chalk.

2. ‘Here is no…

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