The Butterfly

The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing
against a white stone …

Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly ’way up high.
It went away I’m sure
because it wished
to kiss the world good-bye.

For seven weeks I’ve lived in here,
“Ghettoized.”
But I have found what I love here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.

That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don’t live in here,
in the ghetto.

— Pavel Friedmann
Terezín, 4 June 1942

Pavel Friedmann wrote the poem “The Butterfly” in 1942 in the Terezín Ghetto when he was 21. He was murdered in the Auschwitz extermination camp in 1944.

[Research note: original manuscript at the Jewish Museum in Prague: http://collections.jewishmuseum.cz/index.php/Detail/Object/Show/object_id/2131 ]

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