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Montjuich Analysis

Author: poem of Philip Levine Type: poem Views: 9

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"Hill of Jews," says one,

named for a cemetery

long gone."Hill of Jove,"

says another, and maybe

Jove stalked here

once or rests now

where so many lie

who felt God swell

the earth and burn

along the edges

of their breath.

Almost seventy years

since a troop of cavalry

jingled up the silent road,

dismounted, and loaded

their rifles to deliver

the fusillade into

the small, soft body

of Ferrer, who would

not beg God's help.

Later, two carpenters

came, carrying his pine

coffin on their heads,

two men out of movies

not yet made, and near dark

the body was unchained

and fell a last time

onto the stones.

Four soldiers carried

the box, sweating

and resting by turns,

to where the fresh hole

waited, and the world went

back to sleep.

The sea, still dark

as a blind eye,

grumbles at dusk,

the air deepens and a chill

suddenly runs along

my back. I have come

foolishly bearing red roses

for all those whose blood

spotted the cold floors

of these cells. If I

could give a measure

of my own for each

endless moment of pain,

well, what good

would that do? You

are asleep, brothers

and sisters, and maybe

that was all the God

of this old hill could

give you. It wasn't

he who filled your

lungs with the power

to raise your voices

against stone, steel,

animal, against

the pain exploding

in your own skulls,

against the unbreakable

walls of the State.

No, not he. That

was the gift only

the dying could hand

from one of you

to the other, a gift

like these roses I fling

off into the night.

You chose no God

but each other, head,

belly, groin, heart, you

chose the lonely road

back down these hills

empty handed, breath

steaming in the cold

March night, or worse,

the wrong roads

that led to black earth

and the broken seed

of your body. The sea

spreads below, still

as dark and heavy

as oil. As I

descend step by step

a wind picks up and hums

through the low trees

along the way, like

the heavens' last groan

or a song being born.


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