He Did Not Jump from the Third Floor
The second World War
At the Theatre Square
Next morning father went
His workshop has no ceiling,
Father did not jump
Father started over
We leave on tiptoe
Father carries the easel
And three paintings, mother
A chest and the eiderdown
Inherited from grandmother, I myself
My father is pulling the cart, quickly,
a half year's rent.
The Ghetto: A Mother
by Anna Swir
Cuddling in the arms her half-asphyxiated baby, howling,
From the second to the third.
Until she had jumped onto the roof.
There, having choked with air, clinging to the chimney,
the crackle of flames which were reaching higher and higher.
And then she became motionless and silent.
She kept silent to the end, till the moment
at which she suddenly clenched her eyelids,
Two seconds earlier than she herself leapt down.
Anna Swir (1909-1984) is one of Poland's finest poets. Although she wrote poetry for over 50 years it was her experience in Nazi occupied Poland and her time as a member of the anti-Nazi resistance in Poland that really shaped her poetry.
Swir was arrested and faced a Nazi firing squad during the war, waiting 60 minutes to be executed. As well as writing poetry for Polish resistance underground publications, Swir worked as a military nurse, caring for the wounded during the Warsaw Uprising.
Many of her poems record what she witnessed, particularly the experiences and ravages of war, although it was 30 years after the war before Swir found a language to write of her wartime experience.