A Poem for Ahmadinejad

George Packer was over at Goldblog HQ last night for dinner, and so inevitably we started reading aloud from my collection of crumbling Partisan Reviews, because that's how we roll, much to the chagrin of the various other Goldblogs then present. George discovered a wonderful poem in the May-June, 1947 number of the Review (which features writing from, among others, Delmore Schwartz, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens and Arthur Schlessinger, Jr.). The poem, called "Jews at Haifa," is by Randall Jarrell:

The freighter, gay with rust,
Coasts to a bare wharf of the harbor,
From the funnel's shade (the arbor
Of gourds from which the prophet, without trust,
Watched his old enemies,
The beings of this earth) I scrutinize

The hundreds at the rail
Lapped in the blue blaze of this sea
Who stare till their looks fail
At the earth that they are promised; silently
See the sand-bagged machine-guns,
The red-kneed soldiers blinking in the sun.

A machine-gun away
Are men with our faces: we are torn
With the live blaze of day --
Till we feel shifting, wrenched apart, the worn
Named stones of our last knowledge:
That all men wish our death. Here on the edge

Of the graves of Europe
We believe: we are not dead;
It seems to us that hope
Is possible -- that even mercy is permitted
To men on this earth,
To Jews on this earth... But at Cyprus, the red earth,

The huts, the trembling wire
That wreathes us, are to us familiar
As death. All night, the fires
Float their sparks up to the yellow stars;
From the steel, stilted tower
The light sweeps over us. We whisper: Ours.

Ours; and the stones slide home.
There is no hope; "in all this world
There is no other wisdom
Than ours: we have understood the world,"
We think; but hope, in dread
Search for one doubt, and whisper, "Truly, we are not dead."
Presented by

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.


A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book


The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"


This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.


What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Global

From This Author

Just In