Green Hills Literary Lantern

 

 

Morning Sun Bath

 

 

I lie within my cell since night,

Still caught in deeply sleeping pose

While brightness of the sun's light

Approaches on its toes.

 

I sense what secret weavings do

And still cannot let myself awake

To the call of a life that is new

And blessed by sun for my sake.

 

I raise myself to see just how

My barred window to the side

Can shine so fully long and wide.

I try to be close to it now.

 

The loving morning rays

Caress the naked walls in bands

And stroke my tormented gaze

Like tender mother's hands.

 

My torso, head and back I hold

Into suns of shining light

And in their fountains full of gold

I drown in my delight.

 

 

Translator’s note: My grandfather composed this and many other poems in the mid-1930s while in prison under the Nazis.

 

Erik Bendix loves vitality and texture in words.  His poetry distills many decades spent digesting his family's Holocaust survival, living in the woods, exploring world dance, and finding joy in music.  A student of movement arts from Tai Chi to Rumi's dervish whirling, he listens for the cadences of movement in words, and for where those cadences draw life from the body.  He has translated all of Rilke's Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus into English, the latter into full sonnet form to capture the resonance and flow of the original.   His work has appeared in the Asheville Poetry Review, Monarch Review, Word Riot, and Forge Journal.

Ludwig Bendix (1877 - 1954) was a lawyer, labor court judge, and author of many books on democratic law in Germany during the Weimar Republic.  Arrested by the Nazi regime as soon as they were in power, he spent time in a series of their prisons, culminating in 18 months in the Lichtenburg and Dachau concentration camps from 1935 to 1937.  His 1000-page memoir of this experience remains unpublished.  He escaped from Germany in 1938, lived for 10 years in Palestine, and spent the last six years of his life in America.  He wrote poetry throughout his life.