6: Poem, Avrom Sutzkever’s “From a Lost Poem,” Vilna Ghetto, October 1942.
Not all of Sutzkever’s wartime poetry was so heroic. This poem, “From a Lost Poem,” was written soon after Sutzkever’s mother was killed in the ghetto.
Suggested Activity: Read the poem aloud with the class. Note the lack of historical or biblical references, in contrast to “The Lead Plates.” Note the formal differences as well—the free form, almost ad lib structure in comparison to the tight structure of “The Lead Plates.” Ask students to consider: What is the connection in these two poems between the form and the content? What does it say about the poet, that he used art both to express personal anguish and to strengthen collective morale? Is there one voice that you find more compelling or authentic?
Sources: Barbara and Benjamin Harshav, “From a Lost Poem,” A. Sutzkever: Selected poetry and prose (Oakland: University of California, 1991), 150.