Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Sofa in the Forties

Our 21st Poem of the Week is Seamus Heaney's 'A Sofa in the Forties.' The Nobel Laureate read this at the Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration last Sunday in the Mansion House. The poem (from his book The Spirit Level) is set during the war, as a family of Irish children play trains on the sofa at home. It juxtaposes their make-believe play with the terror and tragedy of the Jewish people as they are transported across Europe to their terrible fates.

All of us on the sofa in a line, kneeling
Behind each other, eldest down to youngest,

Elbows going like pistons, for this was a train ...

The full text of the poem is here.

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