As children we ran
Carefree through the streets
Looking at the stars
We still believed
The adults started talking differently
Hushed voices and newspapers
Things I once saw every day
But the adults said that all would be fine, that everything would be quite alright
We still believed
Then, one night: Saturday
Expelled from home and crammed into crates
Time passed; a sudden stop
Shouts of,”Get Out!”
And so we did
A man with a baton walked up
Pointing left and right
Father and I right
Mother and everyone else left
Fear strung up in the air, tears forming in my eyes
Father patted my head as he said,
“Not now, save the tears for later. I have you and you have me.”
We still believed
Wrath of the guards ever-present
Friends began to disappear
Food, food was all I craved
But all they would say is, “Run! Or I’ll shoot!”
Oh father, where are your wise words?
Where is he? Where is he?
I found him, lying still, no, no!
He looked up to me
One last time
“Not now, don’t shed tears now,” he uttered,
“Follow my wise words: you will survive, you will live to see the end.”
And so I looked him in the eyes
Saw the man I once hoped to be
Still like a corpse in my arms.
I still believed
Too much time to keep track
Darkness surrounding my every move
Gunshots, explosions, screams one night
Fear, but numbed
Like a corpse I stumbled on through
Until the shaking of the earth gave way
And so, I let it take me
Consume me beneath the stomping feet
For I once believed
And now I believe no more
Quite frankly, I struggled when it came to writing this personal response. When we first began reading ‘Night’, I was looking at it through the eyes of logic, rather than attempting to immerse myself in the story. To compromise, I pretended as though I was someone going through the same events as others in the concentration camps in an attempt to see things on the same level of Elie.
With this poem, it was based loosely upon the events that occurred within the novel, albeit, with a different ending. The central idea of the poem is that of perseverance. The repetition of the phrase: “We still believed,” or other variants of it help highlight how despite the darkness surrounding the person, they keep pushing through with all their might. However, the phrase mentioned undergoes as the poem progresses. A change in the phrase gives way to how the will to live is slowly being withered away until they reach the point where they are just a corpse. All sense of personality or soul eroded away as a result of the living conditions.
Just like Elie, the person in the poem relies on their relationship with his father as motivation to keep living. But both are slowly fractured as time moves on, leaving them vulnerable. By the time the person’s father passes, the person I wrote about is beyond repair and instead decides to give up as demonstrated by the lines, “So, I let it take me / Consume me beneath the stomping feet.”
The time before the concentration camp is given more lines to show how dynamic life once was, before repetitive misery swallowed up the people as they were transferred to concentration camps. Meanwhile, life after the death of their father is given fewer lines as a way to bring forth how life finally lost its appeal. This replicates Elie’s writing as after his father’s death, all sense of time is lost as all concerns about living vanish.
Overall, the poem is connecting to how Elie presented his issue with trying to persevere onward through all the darkness that encased him. The poem follows how the determination to keep going is severely hindered with the death of the person’s father, which closely replicates how Elie felt during that such event. Both of them end up feeling like corpses with Elie stating, “From the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me.” (115) and in my poem, “Fear, but numbed / Like a corpse I stumbled on through.” While Elie continued to push forward until liberation, the person in my written piece fails to find the spark to keep living. Therefore, the person surrenders themselves to death. With that, the phrase shifts from, “I still believed,” to “For I once believed,” as a final indicator that the end has arrived.