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More Light! More Light! Analysis

Author: poem of Anthony Hecht Type: poem Views: 7

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For Heinrich Blucher and Hannah Arendt

Composed in the Tower before his execution

These moving verses, and being brought at that time

Painfully to the stake, submitted, declaring thus:

"I implore my God to witness that I have made no crime."

Nor was he forsaken of courage, but the death was horrible,

The sack of gunpowder failing to ignite.

His legs were blistered sticks on which the black sap

Bubbled and burst as he howled for the Kindly Light.

And that was but one, and by no means one of he worst;

Permitted at least his pitiful dignity;

And such as were by made prayers in the name of Christ,

That shall judge all men, for his soul's tranquility.

We move now to outside a German wood.

Three men are there commanded to dig a hole

In which the two Jews are ordered to lie down

And be buried alive by the third, who is a Pole.

Not light from the shrine at Weimar beyond the hill

Nor light from heaven appeared. But he did refuse.

A Luger settled back deeply in its glove.

He was ordered to change places with the Jews.

Much casual death had drained away their souls.

The thick dirt mounted toward the quivering chin.

When only the head was exposed the order came

To dig him out again and to get back in.

No light, no light in the blue Polish eye.

When he finished a riding boot packed down the earth.

The Luger hovered lightly in its glove.

He was shot in the belly and in three hours bled to death.

No prayers or incense rose up in those hours

Which grew to be years, and every day came mute

Ghosts from the ovens, sifting through crisp air,

And settled upon his eyes in a black soot.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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Since there is no analysis written yet, and I know this is a critical poem that many English students have to read, I will do the liberty of giving a complete summary of the poem.
The poem hosts two stories, one of a man being burned at the stake for charges of being a heretic, and the second is of three German soldiers, who are given orders to bury two Jews alive, and have a Pole do the job.
The first three lines state how the fourth line, "I implore my God...", was written by the prisoner who is going to be burned at the stake in the prison tower, before his execution, and on the day of his execution, before the fire starts, stated the quote firmly.
The prisoner was burned, but it also states that a sack of gunpowder failed to ignite. This sack of gunpowder was thrown onto the fire where the prisoner was being burned by the executioner, who took pity onto the prisoner and tried to end the man's misery by blowing the man to bits. However, the sack did not catch on fire, so the prisoner was forced to burn to death.
The next story is claimed by the poem to be "far worse" than being burned alive at the stake, since the prisoner had his prayers and had his dignity. Deep in the woods of Nazi territory, presumably a Nazi camp, three officers ordered a lone Polish man (or Pole for short) to bury two Jews alive. The Pole refused and he was then ordered to take the Jews' place and have the Pole buried alive instead. The Pole was buried and shot in the stomach and bled to death in three hours.

| Posted on 2009-04-19 | by a guest

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