Felix Nussbaum's The Refugee (1939)
Excerpts from Refugee Blues
Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there's no place for us, my dear, yet there's no place for us...
Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said:
"If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread";
He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you and me.
Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;
It was Hitler over Europe, saying: "They must die";
We were in his mind, my dear, we were in his mind...
Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees;
They had no politicians and sang at their ease:
They weren't the human race, my dear, they weren't the human race.
Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,
A thousand windows and a thousand doors;
Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.
Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;
Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:
Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me.
British poet W.H.Auden wrote this poem in 1939, the same year that Felix Nussbaum painted The Refugee (top). Nussbaum died in Auschwitz in 1944.
A high school lesson plan using this poem
Bio of Auden
Art by Felix Nussbaum
This week, Stenhouse is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up.