Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Dan Pagis was born into a Jewish family in Bukovina, Rumania in 1930, and died in Jerusalem

  • in 1986. He was first confronted with the Holocaust

  • as a boy of eleven, on a German transport train, with his grandparents. Pagis survived

  • the Holocaust and arrived in Palestine as a sixteen-year-old. He married, had children

  • and besides being a popular teacher of Literature at the Hebrew University, he also became one

  • of Israel's leading poets.

  • Here in this carload I am eve,

  • with Abel my son. If you see my other son

  • Cain son of man tell him that I

  • For me it's one of the ultimate poems on the Holocaust. This poem has to be taught together

  • with the four verses in the book of genesis, because he invokes the name Cain and Abel

  • and Eve and Adam in the poem itself. So what Pagis is doing is making a direct connection

  • between that first universal family, the first murderer on earth - there are only four people

  • on earth and one brother murders the other, Cain murders Abel - and it's an uninterrupted

  • history of murder for Dan Pagis, because history for Dan Pagis is cyclical, and if you look

  • carefully at the poem, the poem is not concluded. So you can read the poem from the end of the

  • poem, it's cyclical, from the end of the poem to the beginning of the poem ad infinitum,

  • and I think that one of the themes to be extracted from this particular fact is that for Dan

  • Pagis history is cyclical in terms of murder, from that single murder to mass murder.

  • Other things that emanate from the dialog between the verses and the poem: Woman in

  • the two tragedies: the tragedy of the murder of her one son, her youngest son, and the

  • place of woman in the tragedy of the Holocaust. You could touch on the theme of Holocaust

  • denial because Cain, in the story in the Bible, in one of the verses, denies - he doesn't

  • know where his brother is, "Am I my brother's keeper?" So you have here a denial that is

  • a prototype of Holocaust denial three thousand years down the line. The subject of the mark

  • of Cain, that is something that could be discussed as a theme. The need to leave testimony: If

  • you look at the poem, the last line of the poem is "tell him that i", and Dan Pagis doesn't

  • put any words into Eve's mouth. He's unable to actually formulate the testimony that she

  • wants to leave.

  • So one of the things that we suggest you can do with the students in your class, is to

  • have them write out this testimony that Dan Pagis didn't formulate. And then you have

  • of course wonderful material for class discussion afterwards.

Dan Pagis was born into a Jewish family in Bukovina, Rumania in 1930, and died in Jerusalem

Subtitles and vocabulary

Click the word to look it up Click the word to find further inforamtion about it