The Truth
Erno szep

Ernő Szép

The burden of guilt assumed by several European states by participating in the WW2 Holocaust of Jews has emerged as an issue of international concern in the French presidential elections, which are set to conclude on May 7. The poem below, composed in 1942 in outrage at the psychological preparation of society to commit mass murder, was probably the author’s last. Ernő Szép (1884-1953), a Jewish-Hungarian poet, journalist, novelist and for long a fashionable playwright, survived the Nazi horror to die alone and forgotten – some say he starved to death – during the subsequent Soviet era.
The truth is that they lie to you
inciting docile folks to hatred.
Resist, resist, resist their truth
of infamy, of ruthlessness.
The newspapers project a lie.
They twist the truth and peddle drivel
and spew their raving explanations
to kindle mass hysteria.
They’re teasing you. It’s all a game.
It’s not just on your mind. Resist it.
You must have lost your sense and faith
if you can chew it and digest it.
Resist, resist such wickedness.
Insist: Their truth is odious!
And have the strength to ridicule
the preachers of such lunacy.
Close up, retreat, escape from here,
protect yourself from their corruption,
from their polluted mist of truths that
consumes unguarded souls alive.
Resist, you hear!.. what’s foul and ugly,
and what torments and nauseates you.
To see the truth, behold the spring and
your features in your photograph.
For truth appears in mirth and youth,
in consolation and assistance,
in tenderness and in affection,
in pard’n-me, in thank-you-kindly.
For truth is found down in this world
in friendship only and attention
and in persistent, robust love
whose very roots spring from the heart.
For truth is beauty, truth is goodness.
For truth dwells in your own sweet dreams.
It is absent from fickle fashion.
The truth is: truth will last for ever.
They’ve struck their knives in you... but even
should they tear out our entrails,
while we can breathe, while we can think,
we must resist, resist their deed.
I seize you by the wrists, my friend.
Look in my eyes! I scream: Resist it!
Insist upon your innocence!
Defend your truth! Do not surrender!
Be strong, be straight, be wise, a hero,
or shield your truth in drink or madness,
or view this frenzy from without
like God... if God should not exist.

Ernő Szép
Adapted and translated by Thomas Land

If you have any thoughts on this poem,  Thomas Land would be pleased to hear them.


Transport to death.