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70TH Anniversary of the Night of the Murdered Poets

Peretz Markish 

Peretz Markish (1895–1952)

Peretz Markish, poet, prose writer, playwright, and essayist, was born to impoverished parents in Polonnoye, a town in Volhynia. Markish began writing Russian poetry in his youth, made his debut in 1917 with poems in Yiddish, and In 1918 relocated to Kiev and took part in the Eygns anthologies (1918–1920), which heralded renewed Yiddish literary creativity in Ukraine after World War I. He traveled widely before settling in Warsaw, In Warsaw, where allied himself with poets who in the early 1920s transformed the city into the center of Yiddish modernism in Eastern Europe. In 1926, Markish settled in the Soviet Union, and by the 30s he was considered one of the most important Soviet Yiddish writers; he was, for example, the only Yiddish writer to receive the Order of Lenin (1939). Markish was arrested in January 1949 as part of the liquidation campaign undertaken against the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and against the remnants of official Jewish cultural activity in the Soviet Union. After an extended period of suffering in prison, an orchestrated trial sentenced Markish to death along with most of the accused. The verdict was carried out in secret on 12 August 1952 in Moscow,

and now as my vision
turns in on itself
it is a shock
to open up my
two eyes and see,
with every fiber
of my being,
that my heart
has fallen, like
a mirror upon stone
and broken into
little pieces
with a
and not
one piece
left free to bear
witness until my
last dying days.
o time, do not
judge me yet.
nor trample me
not until i have
gathered up
these pieces
and glued
myself back
together, piece
by piece, not until my
fingers bleed. not until I see
myself, crippled and
broken, in its face..
now that’s a tale
to tell! as if
a broken man
may see himself
whole again,
And who is it
trying to fuse these
bits and pieces
together again?
And whose
these shards
sown across
the seven seas?
(fr Loshn loshn לשון: בראָכשטיקער פֿון פּרץ מאַרקיש)