HOME POETRY UP


ANDRAS MEZEI

 

Voices of the Holocaust
Translated from the Hungarian and introduced by Thomas Land

Auschwitz is a museum. The smoke has now dispersed, and each generation to the end of history must make peace with the past and resolve to live with its ability to attempt genocide.
Andras Mezei, who has just died in his native Budapest aged 78 years, has left behind a retrospective exploration of the Holocaust for our time. His voices of the past address us with urgency and directness unheard within museum walls. There are many voices of the Holocaust speaking to us of terror, folly, greed, cruelty and absurdity. They could be incomprehensible; Mezei's poetry makes them sound like our own voice.
Mezei is a major Jewish-Hungarian poet. He survived the Nazi attempt at the "ethnic cleansing" of Europe as a child in the Budapest Ghetto where some 17,000 souls perished around him from hunger, disease and the fancy of uniformed bandits.
Unlike other great poets of the Holocaust like Paul Celan, Primo Levi and Miklos Radnoti, Mezei declines to come to terms with death — indeed, his work is a celebration of the unconquerable spirit of his people. And unlike Anne Frank, he had the luxury of time to give voice to the concerns of the victims at the height of his literary powers.