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Remember to Weep


by Primo Levi

You who live secure
In your warm houses
Who return at evening to find
Hot food and friendly faces:

Consider whether this is a man,
Who labours in the mud
Who knows no peace
Who fights for a crust of bread
Who dies at a yes or a no.
Consider whether this is a woman,
Without hair or name
With no more strength to remember
Eyes empty and womb cold
As a frog in winter.

Consider that this has been:
I commend these words to you.
Engrave them on your hearts
When you are in your house, when you walk on your way,
When you go to bed, when you rise.
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your house crumble,
Disease render you powerless,
Your offspring avert their faces from you.


Primo Levi, an Italian Jew, was a concentration camp survivor, who became famous with his autobiographical book, If This is a Man.  Haunted by the fact that he’d somehow survived Auschwitz, while many he believed better than himself did not, he tragically committed suicide in 1987 at the age of sixty-seven.

I thought it was time for another PSOetry entry, as it had been a while.  Thanks to PQS, who’d sent me this quite a while back.  This is kinda-sorta a special entry for my dear and sweet Jewish callers who generously give me their time and attention, and teach me so much with their indubitable wisdom and humble majesty. 

Read more about Primo Levi:  HERE and HERE and HERE

An explanation of the word, Shema

xo, Angela

9 Responses to “Remember to Weep”

  1. PQS Says:

    Thanks for posting Levi’s poem. Its theme – remembrance – is still relevant. Sadly, what has been still is. Remember Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia, Kossovo, Tibet, the Congo. I’d encourage those of you with nothing to do to Google “Zimbabwe elections” just for funsies and remember what’s happening there as well. Racism, oppression, brutality, intolerance, bigotry, and mindless violence persist.

    And there’s plenty to remember right here in the U S of A too. Consider the recent Supreme Court decision upholding Kentucky’s use of lethal injection. Or consider the incarceration levels of black American males; the levels of punishment we mete out to our drug offenders; and against whom and how we decide to impose capital punishment.

    When Levi asks us to remember Auschwitz, I think he is asking us to remember all of the mini-Auschwitzes that are still occurring every day on our little planet. And I think he is asking us all to try a little harder than we normally do to do something about them.

  2. Mr. Smith Says:

    Beautiful poem. Thank you, PQS, for your commentary.

    Angela, you are such an enigma. Yesterday you gave us humor, today you bless us with this.

    No wonder men are so drawn to you.

  3. Lyndee Says:

    Very moving… a reminder that you don’t have to look very far… what is happening here and around the globe, well… just a very sad state of affairs!

    Thanks PQS and Ang…

  4. slaveboyseven Says:

    Sorry, gang, but I don’t come here for politics. I’ll debate you on the death penalty somewhere else.

  5. booklover Says:

    Slaveboy – Rwanda and Darfur aren’t political issues – at least conservatives and liberals seem to agree. The poet was directing us to some universal issues. Nice choice, Angela.

  6. puzzler565 Says:

    This is quite a change from our earlier PQS submissions about the Texas penal system! It is nice to know where our hearts lie when they are not lying at Angela’s feet, as rare as that might be.

  7. PQS Says:

    Sorry, slaveboy. No offense intended. You’re probably right about this not being the proper forum for airing my personal views about capital punishment. And I guess my being preachy isn’t the best way to win any converts to my point of view. However, one of the attractions of ZF is that Angie’s always been pretty relaxed about what participants say or do on it content-wise. I can’t recall her ever censoring me or anyone else for anything we’ve posted (so long as the words are spelled right and the grammar is correct). I suppose there are limits to anything, but one thing about ZF that I’ve always found nice is that people here can say what they think. If there is disagreement with something somebodyposts, then another can comment or ignore it, as he likes. Your suggestion that I take my thoughts elsewhere rankles me a little, I guess. But I’ll get over it.

    That aside, any time you want to debate me on the morality or social utility of the death penalty somewhere else, let me know where and when. I’m no fan of it, as you can probably tell. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

  8. Angela Says:

    Slaveboy and PQS! Behave yourselves! Or Miss Angela is going to have to take you both to the “naughty room.”

    And Slaveboy knows that’s a very scary place.

  9. yelomonkey Says:

    Hi sweet girl. Happy Pasch. It’s been a long, long time.

    Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.
    “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God! The LORD is One!” and,
    “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God — the LORD alone.”

    Always think of you.


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