What we want is not a heroic death but the gentle extinction of the body’s fires: the night that falls quietly, with a tread soothing to the ear, like a herd coming down the hill in the evening.
What we want, gentlemen, is not to taste all the fruits of the earth but to have each day a basket filled with good things gathered in the neighborhood.
What we want is not to write our name down in the book of the future, but to have tasks worthy of our limbs, of our brain, and also of our heart, so that we can each rejoice watching ourselves earn our daily bread. We fear the large-scale workshops where we can’t tell ourselves apart from machines, swept up as we are in the same deafening clatter of parts, and we fear, too, the loneliness of the man in his room, in his field, in his accounts with their columns straight as prison bars. We like windows and we like curtains.
What we want is not heaven on Earth, for we know that man is entirely made up of earth; for that reason, our dreams never rise any higher than our eyes, our mouth, our forehead, where wrinkles necessarily have their place.
For it is not the seed, but the arid soil that turns most of us into stunted desert shrubs. And what we want is to grow into the tree that is inside every child.
–from The Morning Star by Andre Schwarz-Bart
I just finished this book today — it is a crystalline book, many-faceted and clear, an inward look at the mind and life of a Holocaust survivor. This poem was written by one of the characters after they had all survived and begun to try to rebuild their lives. I find it bittersweet — what we all want, but what was taken away from them, sometimes forever.