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CLASSIC POETRY

· Victor Hugo: Guerre civile (Poème) · Lord Byron: There be none of Beauty’s daughters. Stanzas for Music · Victor Hugo: Les innocents (Poème) · The Home-Coming Of ‘Rastus Smith by Paul Laurence Dunbar (Short story) · Sophie Albrecht: An die Freiheit (Gedicht) · Victor Hugo: Les fusillés (Poème) · Lord Byron: John Keats Poem · Benjamin Balint: Kafka’s laatste proces. De strijd om een literaire nalatenschap · Victor Hugo: Claire (Poème) · Sophie Albrecht: Im Junius 1783 (Gedicht) · Emily Dickinson: Because I could not stop for Death · Paul Laurence Dunbar: The Lynching Of Jube Benson. Short story

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Victor Hugo: Guerre civile (Poème)

 

Guerre civile

La foule était tragique et terrible ; on criait :
À mort ! Autour d’un homme altier, point inquiet,
Grave, et qui paraissait lui-même inexorable,
Le peuple se pressait : À mort le misérable !
Et lui, semblait trouver toute simple la mort.
La partie est perdue, on n’est pas le plus fort,
On meurt, soit. Au milieu de la foule accourue,
Les vainqueurs le traînaient de chez lui dans la rue.
— À mort l’homme ! — On l’avait saisi dans son logis ;
Ses vêtements étaient de carnage rougis ;
Cet homme était de ceux qui font l’aveugle guerre
Des rois contre le peuple, et ne distinguent guère
Scévola de Brutus, ni Barbès de Blanqui ;
Il avait tout le jour tué n’importe qui ;
Incapable de craindre, incapable d’absoudre,
Il marchait, laissant voir ses mains noires de poudre ;
Une femme le prit au collet : « À genoux !
C’est un sergent de ville. Il a tiré sur nous !
— C’est vrai, dit l’homme. — À bas ! à mort ! qu’on le fusille !
Dit le peuple. — Ici ! Non ! Plus loin ! À la Bastille !
À l’arsenal ! Allons ! Viens ! Marche ! — Où vous voudrez »,
Dit le prisonnier. Tous, hagards, les rangs serrés,
Chargèrent leurs fusils. « Mort au sergent de ville !
Tuons-le comme un loup ! — Et l’homme dit, tranquille :
— C’est bien, je suis le loup, mais vous êtes les chiens.
— Il nous insulte ! À mort ! » Les pâles citoyens
Croisaient leurs poings crispés sur le captif farouche ;
L’ombre était sur son front et le fiel dans sa bouche ;
Cent voix criaient : « À mort ! À bas ! Plus d’empereur ! »
On voyait dans ses yeux un reste de fureur
Remuer vaguement comme une hydre échouée ;
Il marchait poursuivi par l’énorme huée,
Et, calme, il enjambait, plein d’un superbe ennui,
Des cadavres gisants, peut-être faits par lui.
Le peuple est effrayant lorsqu’il devient tempête ;
L’homme sous plus d’affronts levait plus haut la tête ;
Il était plus que pris, il était envahi.
Dieu ! comme il haïssait ! comme il était haï !
Comme il les eût, vainqueur, fusillés tous ! « Qu’il meure !
Il nous criblait encor de balles tout à l’heure !
À bas cet espion, ce traître, ce maudit !
À mort ! c’est un brigand ! » Soudain on entendit
Une petite voix qui disait : « C’est mon père ! »
Et quelque chose fit l’effet d’une lumière.
Un enfant apparut. Un enfant de six ans.
Ses deux bras se dressaient suppliants, menaçants.
Tous criaient : « Fusillez le mouchard ! Qu’on l’assomme ! »
Et l’enfant se jeta dans les jambes de l’homme,
Et dit, ayant au front le rayon baptismal :
« Père, je ne veux pas qu’on te fasse de mal ! »
Et cet enfant sortait de la même demeure.
Les clameurs grossissaient : « À bas l’homme ! Qu’il meure !
À bas ! finissons-en avec cet assassin !
Mort ! » Au loin le canon répondait au tocsin.
Toute la rue était pleine d’hommes sinistres.
À bas les rois ! À bas les prêtres, les ministres,
Les mouchards ! Tuons tout ! c’est un tas de bandits ! »
Et l’enfant leur cria : « Mais puisque je vous dis
Que c’est mon père ! — Il est joli, dit une femme,
Bel enfant ! » On voyait dans ses yeux bleus une âme ;
Il était tout en pleurs, pâle, point mal vêtu.
Une autre femme dit : « Petit, quel âge as-tu ?
Et l’enfant répondit : — Ne tuez pas mon père ! »
Quelques regards pensifs étaient fixés à terre,
Les poings ne tenaient plus l’homme si durement.
Un de plus furieux, entre tous inclément,
Dit à l’enfant : « Va-t’en ! — Où ? — Chez toi. — Pourquoi faire ?
— Chez ta mère. — Sa mère est morte, dit le père.
— Il n’a donc plus que vous ? — Qu’est-ce que cela fait ? »
Dit le vaincu. Stoïque et calme, il réchauffait
Les deux petites mains dans sa rude poitrine,
Et disait à l’enfant : « Tu sais bien, Catherine ?
— Notre voisine ? — Oui. Va chez elle. — Avec toi ?
— J’irai plus tard. — Sans toi je ne veux pas. — Pourquoi ?
— Parce qu’on te ferait du mal. » Alors le père
Parla tout bas au chef de cette sombre guerre :
« Lâchez-moi le collet. Prenez-moi par la main,
Doucement. Je vais dire à l’enfant : À demain !
Vous me fusillerez au détour de la rue,
Ailleurs, où vous voudrez. — Et, d’une voix bourrue :
— Soit, dit le chef, lâchant le captif à moitié.
Le père dit : — Tu vois. C’est de bonne amitié.
Je me promène avec ces messieurs. Sois bien sage,
Rentre. » Et l’enfant tendit au père son visage,
Et s’en alla content, rassuré, sans effroi.
« Nous sommes à notre aise à présent, tuez-moi,
Dit le père aux vainqueurs ; où voulez-vous que j’aille ? »
Alors, dans cette foule où grondait la bataille,
On entendit passer un immense frisson,
Et le peuple cria : « Rentre dans ta maison ! »

Victor Hugo
(1802-1885)
Guerre civile
(Poème)
La Légende des siècles, 1877

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More in: Archive G-H, Archive G-H, Hugo, Victor, Victor Hugo


Lord Byron: There be none of Beauty’s daughters. Stanzas for Music

 

There be none of Beauty’s daughters
Stanzas for Music

There be none of Beauty’s daughters
With a magic like Thee;
And like music on the waters
Is thy sweet voice to me:
When, as if its sound were causing
The charméd ocean’s pausing,
The waves lie still and gleaming,
And the lull’d winds seem dreaming:
And the midnight moon is weaving
Her bright chain o’er the deep,
Whose breast is gently heaving
As an infant’s asleep:
So the spirit bows before thee
To listen and adore thee;
With a full but soft emotion,
Like the swell of Summer’s ocean.

George Gordon Byron
(1788 – 1824)
There be none of Beauty’s daughters
Stanzas for Music

• fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: # Music Archive, Archive A-B, Archive A-B, Byron, Lord


Victor Hugo: Les innocents (Poème)

 

Les innocents

Mais les enfants sont là. Le murmure qui sort
De ces âmes en fleur est-il compris du sort ?
L’enfant va devant lui gaîment ; mais la prière,
Quand il rit, parle-t-elle à quelqu’un en arrière ?
Le frais chuchotement du doux être enfantin
Attendrit-il l’oreille obscure du destin ?
Oh ! que d’ombre ! Tous deux chantent, fragiles têtes
Où flotte la lueur d’on ne sait quelles fêtes,
Et que dore un reflet d’un paradis lointain !
Les enfants ont des coeurs faits comme le matin
Ils ont une innocence étonnée et joyeuse ;
Et pas plus que l’oiseau gazouillant sous l’yeuse,
Pas plus que l’astre éclos sur les noirs horizons,
Ils ne sont inquiets de ce que nous faisons,
Ayant pour toute affaire et pour toute aventure
L’épanouissement de la grande nature ;
Ils ne demandent rien à Dieu que son soleil ;
Ils sont contents pourvu qu’un beau rayon vermeil
Chauffe les petits doigts de leur main diaphane
Et que le ciel soit bleu, cela suffit à Jeanne.

Victor Hugo
(1802-1885)
Les innocents
(Poème)

• fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: Archive G-H, Archive G-H, Hugo, Victor, Victor Hugo


The Home-Coming Of ‘Rastus Smith by Paul Laurence Dunbar (Short story)

THE HOME-COMING OF ‘RASTUS SMITH

There was a great commotion in that part of town which was known as “Little Africa,” and the cause of it was not far to seek. Contrary to the usual thing, this cause was not an excursion down the river, nor a revival, baptising, nor an Emancipation Day celebration. None of these was it that had aroused the denizens of “Little Africa,” and kept them talking across the street from window to window, from door to door, through alley gates, over backyard fences, where they stood loud-mouthed and arms akimboed among laden clothes lines. No, the cause of it all was that Erastus Smith, Aunt Mandy Smith’s boy, who had gone away from home several years before, and who, rumour said, had become a great man, was coming back, and “Little Africa,” from Douglass Street to Cat Alley, was prepared to be dazzled. So few of those who had been born within the mile radius which was “Little Africa” went out into the great world and came into contact with the larger humanity that when one did he became a man set apart. And when, besides, he went into a great city and worked for a lawyer whose name was known the country over, the place of his birth had all the more reason to feel proud of her son.

So there was much talk across the dirty little streets, and Aunt Mandy’s small house found itself all of a sudden a very popular resort. The old women held Erastus up as an example to their sons. The old men told what they might have done had they had his chance. The young men cursed him, and the young girls giggled and waited.

It was about an hour before the time of the arrival of Erastus, and the neighbours had thinned out one by one with a delicacy rather surprising in them, in order that the old lady might be alone with her boy for the first few minutes. Only one remained to help put the finishing touches to the two little rooms which Mrs. Smith called home, and to the preparations for the great dinner. The old woman wiped her eyes as she said to her companion, “Hit do seem a speshul blessin’, Lizy, dat I been spaihed to see dat chile once mo’ in de flesh. He sholy was mighty nigh to my hea’t, an’ w’en he went erway, I thought it ‘ud kill me. But I kin see now dat hit uz all fu’ de bes’. Think o’ ‘Rastus comin’ home, er big man! Who’d evah ‘specked dat?”

“Law, Mis’ Smif, you sholy is got reason to be mighty thankful. Des’ look how many young men dere is in dis town what ain’t nevah been no ‘count to dey pa’ents, ner anybody else.”

“Well, it’s onexpected, Lizy, an’ hit’s ‘spected. ‘Rastus allus wuz a wonnerful chil’, an’ de way he tuk to work an’ study kin’ o’ promised something f’om de commencement, an’ I ‘lowed mebbe he tu’n out a preachah.”

“Tush! yo’ kin thank yo’ stahs he didn’t tu’n out no preachah. Preachahs ain’t no bettah den anybody else dese days. Dey des go roun’ tellin’ dey lies an’ eatin’ de whiders an’ orphins out o’ house an’ home.”

“Well, mebbe hit’s bes’ he didn’ tu’n out dat way. But f’om de way he used to stan’ on de chaih an’ ‘zort w’en he was a little boy, I thought hit was des what he ‘ud tu’n out. O’ co’se, being’ in a law office is des as pervidin’, but somehow hit do seem mo’ worl’y.”

“Didn’t I tell you de preachahs is ez worldly ez anybody else?”

“Yes, yes, dat’s right, but den ‘Rastus, he had de eddication, fo’ he had gone thoo de Third Readah.”

Just then the gate creaked, and a little brown-faced girl, with large, mild eyes, pushed open the door and came shyly in.

“Hyeah’s some flowahs, Mis’ Smif,” she said. “I thought mebbe you might like to decorate ‘Rastus’s room,” and she wiped the confusion from her face with her apron.

“La, chil’, thankee. Dese is mighty pu’tty posies.” These were the laurels which Sally Martin had brought to lay at the feet of her home-coming hero. No one in Cat Alley but that queer, quiet little girl would have thought of decorating anybody’s room with flowers, but she had peculiar notions.

In the old days, when they were children, and before Erastus had gone away to become great, they had gone up and down together along the byways of their locality, and had loved as children love. Later, when Erastus began keeping company, it was upon Sally that he bestowed his affections. No one, not even her mother, knew how she had waited for him all these years that he had been gone, few in reality, but so long and so many to her.

And now he was coming home. She scorched something in the ironing that day because tears of joy were blinding her eyes. Her thoughts were busy with the meeting that was to be. She had a brand new dress for the occasion—a lawn, with dark blue dots, and a blue sash—and there was a new hat, wonderful with the flowers of summer, and for both of them she had spent her hard-earned savings, because she wished to be radiant in the eyes of the man who loved her.

Of course, Erastus had not written her; but he must have been busy, and writing was hard work. She knew that herself, and realised it all the more as she penned the loving little scrawls which at first she used to send him. Now they would not have to do any writing any more; they could say what they wanted to each other. He was coming home at last, and she had waited long.

They paint angels with shining faces and halos, but for real radiance one should have looked into the dark eyes of Sally as she sped home after her contribution to her lover’s reception.

When the last one of the neighbours had gone Aunt Mandy sat down to rest herself and to await the great event. She had not sat there long before the gate creaked. She arose and hastened to the window. A young man was coming down the path. Was that ‘Rastus? Could that be her ‘Rastus, that gorgeous creature with the shiny shoes and the nobby suit and the carelessly-swung cane? But he was knocking at her door, and she opened it and took him into her arms.

“Why, howdy, honey, howdy; hit do beat all to see you agin, a great big, grown-up man. You’re lookin’ des’ lak one o’ de big folks up in town.”

Erastus submitted to her endearments with a somewhat condescending grace, as who should say, “Well, poor old fool, let her go on this time; she doesn’t know any better.” He smiled superiorly when the old woman wept glad tears, as mothers have a way of doing over returned sons, however great fools these sons may be. She set him down to the dinner which she had prepared for him, and with loving patience drew from his pompous and reluctant lips some of the story of his doings and some little word about the places he had seen.

“Oh, yes,” he said, crossing his legs, “as soon as Mr. Carrington saw that I was pretty bright, he took me right up and gave me a good job, and I have been working for him right straight along for seven years now. Of course, it don’t do to let white folks know all you’re thinking; but I have kept my ears and my eyes right open, and I guess I know just about as much about law as he does himself. When I save up a little more I’m going to put on the finishing touches and hang out my shingle.”

“Don’t you nevah think no mo’ ’bout bein’ a preachah, ‘Rastus?” his mother asked.

“Haw, haw! Preachah? Well, I guess not; no preaching in mine; there’s nothing in it. In law you always have a chance to get into politics and be the president of your ward club or something like that, and from that on it’s an easy matter to go on up. You can trust me to know the wires.” And so the tenor of his boastful talk ran on, his mother a little bit awed and not altogether satisfied with the new ‘Rastus that had returned to her.

He did not stay in long that evening, although his mother told him some of the neighbours were going to drop in. He said he wanted to go about and see something of the town. He paused just long enough to glance at the flowers in his room, and to his mother’s remark, “Sally Ma’tin brung dem in,” he returned answer, “Who on earth is Sally Martin?”

“Why, ‘Rastus,” exclaimed his mother, “does yo’ ‘tend lak yo’ don’t ‘member little Sally Ma’tin yo’ used to go wid almos’ f’om de time you was babies? W’y, I’m s’prised at you.”

“She has slipped my mind,” said the young man.

For a long while the neighbours who had come and Aunt Mandy sat up to wait for Erastus, but he did not come in until the last one was gone. In fact, he did not get in until nearly four o’clock in the morning, looking a little weak, but at least in the best of spirits, and he vouchsafed to his waiting mother the remark that “the little old town wasn’t so bad, after all.”

Aunt Mandy preferred the request that she had had in mind for some time, that he would go to church the next day, and he consented, because his trunk had come.

It was a glorious Sunday morning, and the old lady was very proud in her stiff gingham dress as she saw her son come into the room arrayed in his long coat, shiny hat, and shinier shoes. Well, if it was true that he was changed, he was still her ‘Rastus, and a great comfort to her. There was no vanity about the old woman, but she paused before the glass a longer time than usual, settling her bonnet strings, for she must look right, she told herself, to walk to church with that elegant son of hers. When he was all ready, with cane in hand, and she was pausing with the key in the door, he said, “Just walk on, mother, I’ll catch you in a minute or two.” She went on and left him.

He did not catch her that morning on her way to church, and it was a sore disappointment, but it was somewhat compensated for when she saw him stalking into the chapel in all his glory, and every head in the house turned to behold him.

There was one other woman in “Little Africa” that morning who stopped for a longer time than usual before her looking-glass and who had never found her bonnet strings quite so refractory before. In spite of the vexation of flowers that wouldn’t settle and ribbons that wouldn’t tie, a very glad face looked back at Sally Martin from her little mirror. She was going to see ‘Rastus, ‘Rastus of the old days in which they used to walk hand in hand. He had told her when he went away that some day he would come back and marry her. Her heart fluttered hotly under her dotted lawn, and it took another application of the chamois to take the perspiration from her face. People had laughed at her, but that morning she would be vindicated. He would walk home with her before the whole church. Already she saw him bowing before her, hat in hand, and heard the set phrase, “May I have the pleasure of your company home?” and she saw herself sailing away upon his arm.

She was very happy as she sat in church that morning, as happy as Mrs. Smith herself, and as proud when she saw the object of her affections swinging up the aisle to the collection table, and from the ring she knew that it could not be less than a half dollar that he put in.

There was a special note of praise in her voice as she joined in singing the doxology that morning, and her heart kept quivering and fluttering like a frightened bird as the people gathered in groups, chattering and shaking hands, and he drew nearer to her. Now they were almost together; in a moment their eyes would meet. Her breath came quickly; he had looked at her, surely he must have seen her. His mother was just behind him, and he did not speak. Maybe she had changed, maybe he had forgotten her. An unaccustomed boldness took possession of her, and she determined that she would not be overlooked. She pressed forward. She saw his mother take his arm and heard her whisper, “Dere’s Sally Ma’tin” this time, and she knew that he looked at her. He bowed as if to a stranger, and was past her the next minute. When she saw him again he was swinging out of the door between two admiring lines of church-goers who separated on the pavement. There was a brazen yellow girl on his arm.

She felt weak and sick as she hid behind the crowd as well as she could, and for that morning she thanked God that she was small.

Aunt Mandy trudged home alone, and when the street was cleared and the sexton was about to lock up, the girl slipped out of the church and down to her own little house. In the friendly shelter of her room she took off her gay attire and laid it away, and then sat down at the window and looked dully out. For her, the light of day had gone out.

Paul Laurence Dunbar
(1872 – 1906)
The Home-Coming Of ‘Rastus Smith
From The Heart Of Happy Hollow, a collection of short stories reprinted in 1904 by Dodd, Mead and Company, New York. Short Story

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More in: Archive C-D, Archive C-D, Dunbar, Paul Laurence, Dunbar, Paul Laurence, Paul Laurence Dunbar


Sophie Albrecht: An die Freiheit (Gedicht)

 

An die Freiheit

Goldne Freiheit, kehre wieder
In mein wundes Herz zurück,
Weck’ mir neue, heit’re Lieder
Und entwölke Geist und Blick.

Komm und trockne meine Thränen
Mit der rosig-zarten Hand,
Stille meines Busens Sehnen,
Löse, was die Liebe band.

Liebe schafft Olympos-Freuden,
Und wer ehrte sie wie ich? –
Tiefer doch sind ihre Leiden,
Und allein sie trafen mich.

Ach! mit Jahren voller Qualen,
Mit des halben Lebens Glück
Mußt’ ich ihre Wonne zahlen,
Flüchtig, wie ein Augenblick.

Ohne Freuden stieg der Morgen
Für mich arme Schwärmerin,
Und der Liebe bleiche Sorgen
Welkten meinen Frühling hin.

Wonne hat sie mir versprochen,
Treue war mein Gegenschwur,
Unsern Bund hat sie gebrochen,
Schmerz und Tränen gab sie nur. –

Nimm für deine Palmenkrone
Was die Liebe mir verspricht,
Hier in dieser Männer-Zone
Grünt für mich die Myrte nicht.

Goldne Freiheit, kehre wieder,
Stimme meiner Harfe Ton;
Jubelt lauter, meine Lieder,
Ihr Umarmen fühl’ ich schon!

Sophie Albrecht
(1757-1840)
Gedicht
An die Freiheit

• fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: Archive A-B, Archive A-B, CLASSIC POETRY, Galerie Deutschland


Victor Hugo: Les fusillés (Poème)

 

Les fusillés

… Partout la mort. Eh bien, pas une plainte.
Ô blé que le destin fauche avant qu’il soit mûr !
Ô peuple !

On les amène au pied de l’affreux mur.
C’est bien. Ils ont été battus du vent contraire.
L’homme dit au soldat qui l’ajuste : Adieu, frère.
La femme dit : – Mon homme est tué. C’est assez.
Je ne sais s’il eut tort ou raison, mais je sais
Que nous avons traîné le malheur côte à côte ;
Il fut mon compagnon de chaîne ; si l’on m’ôte
Cet homme, je n’ai plus besoin de vivre. Ainsi
Puisqu’il est mort, il faut que je meure. Merci. –
Et dans les carrefours les cadavres s’entassent.
Dans un noir peloton vingt jeunes filles passent ;
Elles chantent ; leur grâce et leur calme innocent
Inquiètent la foule effarée ; un passant
Tremble. – Où donc allez-vous ? dit-il à la plus belle.
Parlez. – Je crois qu’on va nous fusiller, dit-elle.
Un bruit lugubre emplit la caserne Lobau ;
C’est le tonnerre ouvrant et fermant le tombeau.
Là des tas d’hommes sont mitraillés ; nul ne pleure ;
Il semble que leur mort à peine les effleure,
Qu’ils ont hâte de fuir un monde âpre, incomplet,
Triste, et que cette mise en liberté leur plaît.
Nul ne bronche. On adosse à la même muraille
Le petit-fils avec l’aïeul, et l’aïeul raille,
Et l’enfant blond et frais s’écrie en riant : Feu ! […]

Victor Hugo
(1802-1885)
Les fusillés
(Poème)
L’année terrible

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More in: Archive G-H, Archive G-H, Hugo, Victor, Victor Hugo


Lord Byron: John Keats Poem

John Keats Poem

Who killed John Keats?
‘I,’ says the Quarterly,
So savage and Tartarly;
”Twas one of my feats.’

Who shot the arrow?
‘The poet-priest Milman
(So ready to kill man),
Or Southey or Barrow.

George Gordon Byron
(1788 – 1824)
John Keats Poem

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More in: Archive A-B, Archive A-B, Byron, Lord, Keats, John


Benjamin Balint: Kafka’s laatste proces. De strijd om een literaire nalatenschap

Het nagelaten werk van Franz Kafka is dankzij zijn vriend Max Brod bewaard gebleven, maar na het overlijden van Brod in 1968 begint een hevige en absurde strijd om het eigendomsrecht.

De originele, handgeschreven versies van meesterwerken als Het proces en De gedaanteverwisseling komen achtereenvolgens in handen van Brods secretaresse Esther Hoffe en haar dochter Eva.

Er ontvouwt zich echter een juridisch getouwtrek als zowel Israël als Duitsland het werk claimen.

Duitsland, waar drie zussen van Kafka stierven tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog, wil de schrijver recht doen, en Israël meent rechten te hebben als Joodse staat en Kafka’s gedroomde land.

Kafka’s laatste proces leest als een waargebeurde thriller, maar maakt pijnlijk duidelijk hoe de Joodse schrijver Franz Kafka inzet wordt van zionistische claims. In de verbeten strijd die de twee landen uitvechten, lijken ze vooral de geschiedenis te willen herschrijven.

Benjamin Balint woont in Jeruzalem, waar hij verbonden is aan het Van Leer Institute. Hij schrijft o.a. voor Haaretz en de Wall Street Journal. Over de Joods-Amerikaanse schrijvers die publiceerden in het tijdschrift Commentary, schreef hij Running Commentary (2010).

Benjamin Balint (Auteur)
Kafka’s laatste proces.
De strijd om een literaire nalatenschap
Vertaling Frank Lekens
Oorspronkelijke titel:
Kafka’s Last Trial.
The Case of a Literary Legacy
Omslagtekening Jirí Slíva
Omslag Bart van den Tooren
Uitg. Bas Lubberhuizen
304 pagina’s
15 x 23 cm
Geïllustreerde paperback
ISBN 9789059375284
Verschenen: januari 2019
€ 24,99

# New books
Benjamin Balint
Kafka’s Last Trial.
The Case of a Literary Legacy

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Victor Hugo: Claire (Poème)

 

Claire

Quoi donc ! la vôtre aussi ! la vôtre suit la mienne !
O mère au coeur profond, mère, vous avez beau
Laisser la porte ouverte afin qu’elle revienne,
Cette pierre là-bas dans l’herbe est un tombeau !

La mienne disparut dans les flots qui se mêlent ;
Alors, ce fut ton tour, Claire, et tu t’envolas.
Est-ce donc que là-haut dans l’ombre elles s’appellent,
Qu’elles s’en vont ainsi l’une après l’autre, hélas ?

Enfant qui rayonnais, qui chassais la tristesse,
Que ta mère jadis berçait de sa chanson,
Qui d’abord la charmas avec ta petitesse
Et plus tard lui remplis de clarté l’horizon,

Voilà donc que tu dors sous cette pierre grise !
Voilà que tu n’es plus, ayant à peine été !
L’astre attire le lys, et te voilà reprise,
O vierge, par l’azur, cette virginité !

Te voilà remontée au firmament sublime,
Échappée aux grands cieux comme la grive aux bois,
Et, flamme, aile, hymne, odeur, replongée à l’abîme
Des rayons, des amours, des parfums et des voix !

Nous ne t’entendrons plus rire en notre nuit noire.
Nous voyons seulement, comme pour nous bénir,
Errer dans notre ciel et dans notre mémoire
Ta figure, nuage, et ton nom, souvenir !

Pressentais-tu déjà ton sombre épithalame ?
Marchant sur notre monde à pas silencieux,
De tous les idéals tu composais ton âme,
Comme si tu faisais un bouquet pour les cieux !

En te voyant si calme et toute lumineuse,
Les coeurs les plus saignants ne haïssaient plus rien.
Tu passais parmi nous comme Ruth la glaneuse ,
Et, comme Ruth l’épi, tu ramassais le bien.

La nature, ô front pur, versait sur toi sa grâce,
L’aurore sa candeur, et les champs leur bonté ;
Et nous retrouvions, nous sur qui la douleur passe,
Toute cette douceur dans toute ta beauté !

Chaste, elle paraissait ne pas être autre chose
Que la forme qui sort des cieux éblouissants ;
Et de tous les rosiers elle semblait la rose,
Et de tous les amours elle semblait l’encens.

Ceux qui n’ont pas connu cette charmante fille
Ne peuvent pas savoir ce qu’était ce regard
Transparent comme l’eau qui s’égaie et qui brille
Quand l’étoile surgit sur l’océan hagard.

Elle était simple, franche, humble, naïve et bonne ;
Chantant à demi-voix son chant d’illusion,
Ayant je ne sais quoi dans toute sa personne
De vague et de lointain comme la vision.

On sentait qu’elle avait peu de temps sur la terre,
Qu’elle n’apparaissait que pour s’évanouir,
Et qu’elle acceptait peu sa vie involontaire ;
Et la tombe semblait par moments l’éblouir.

Elle a passé dans l’ombre où l’homme se résigne ;
Le vent sombre soufflait ; elle a passé sans bruit,
Belle, candide, ainsi qu’une plume de cygne
Qui reste blanche, même en traversant la nuit !

Elle s’en est allée à l’aube qui se lève,
Lueur dans le matin, vertu dans le ciel bleu,
Bouche qui n’a connu que le baiser du rêve,
Ame qui n’a dormi que dans le lit de Dieu !

Nous voici maintenant en proie aux deuils sans bornes,
Mère, à genoux tous deux sur des cercueils sacrés,
Regardant à jamais dans les ténèbres mornes
La disparition des êtres adorés !

Croire qu’ils resteraient ! quel songe ! Dieu les presse.
Même quand leurs bras blancs sont autour de nos cous,
Un vent du ciel profond fait frissonner sans cesse
Ces fantômes charmants que nous croyons à nous.

Ils sont là, près de nous, jouant sur notre route ;
Ils ne dédaignent pas notre soleil obscur,
Et derrière eux, et sans que leur candeur s’en doute,
Leurs ailes font parfois de l’ombre sur le mur.

Ils viennent sous nos toits ; avec nous ils demeurent ;
Nous leur disons : Ma fille, ou : Mon fils ; ils sont doux,
Riants, joyeux, nous font une caresse, et meurent. –
O mère, ce sont là les anges, voyez-vous !

C’est une volonté du sort, pour nous sévère,
Qu’ils rentrent vite au ciel resté pour eux ouvert ;
Et qu’avant d’avoir mis leur lèvre à notre verre,
Avant d’avoir rien fait et d’avoir rien souffert,

Ils partent radieux ; et qu’ignorant l’envie,
L’erreur, l’orgueil, le mal, la haine, la douleur,
Tous ces êtres bénis s’envolent de la vie
A l’âge où la prunelle innocente est en fleur !

Nous qui sommes démons ou qui sommes apôtres,
Nous devons travailler, attendre, préparer ;
Pensifs, nous expions pour nous-même ou pour d’autres ;
Notre chair doit saigner, nos yeux doivent pleurer.

Eux, ils sont l’air qui fuit, l’oiseau qui ne se pose
Qu’un instant, le soupir qui vole, avril vermeil
Qui brille et passe ; ils sont le parfum de la rose
Qui va rejoindre aux cieux le rayon du soleil !

Ils ont ce grand dégoût mystérieux de l’âme
Pour notre chair coupable et pour notre destin ;
Ils ont, êtres rêveurs qu’un autre azur réclame,
Je ne sais quelle soif de mourir le matin !

Ils sont l’étoile d’or se couchant dans l’aurore,
Mourant pour nous, naissant pour l’autre firmament ;
Car la mort, quand un astre en son sein vient éclore,
Continue, au delà, l’épanouissement !

Oui, mère, ce sont là les élus du mystère,
Les envoyés divins, les ailés, les vainqueurs,
A qui Dieu n’a permis que d’effleurer la terre
Pour faire un peu de joie à quelques pauvres coeurs.

Comme l’ange à Jacob, comme Jésus à Pierre,
Ils viennent jusqu’à nous qui loin d’eux étouffons,
Beaux, purs, et chacun d’eux portant sous sa paupière
La sereine clarté des paradis profonds.

Puis, quand ils ont, pieux, baisé toutes nos plaies,
Pansé notre douleur, azuré nos raisons,
Et fait luire un moment l’aube à travers nos claies,
Et chanté la chanson du ciel dam nos maisons,

Ils retournent là-haut parler à Dieu des hommes,
Et, pour lui faire voir quel est notre chemin,
Tout ce que nous souffrons et tout ce que nous sommes,
S’en vont avec un peu de terre dans la main.

Ils s’en vont ; c’est tantôt l’éclair qui les emporte,
Tantôt un mal plus fort que nos soins superflus.
Alors, nous, pâles, froids, l’oeil fixé sur la porte,
Nous ne savons plus rien, sinon qu’ils ne sont plus.

Nous disons : – A quoi bon l’âtre sans étincelles ?
A quoi bon la maison où ne sont plus leurs pas ?
A quoi bon la ramée où ne sont plus les ailes ?
Qui donc attendons-nous s’ils ne reviendront pas ? –

Ils sont partis, pareils au bruit qui sort des lyres.
Et nous restons là, seuls, près du gouffre où tout fuit,
Tristes ; et la lueur de leurs charmants sourires
Parfois nous apparaît vaguement dans la nuit.

Car ils sont revenus, et c’est là le mystère ;
Nous entendons quelqu’un flotter, un souffle errer,
Des robes effleurer notre seuil solitaire,
Et cela fait alors que nous pouvons pleurer.

Nous sentons frissonner leurs cheveux dans notre ombre ;
Nous sentons, lorsqu’ayant la lassitude en nous,
Nous nous levons après quelque prière sombre,
Leurs blanches mains toucher doucement nos genoux.

Ils nous disent tout bas de leur voix la plus tendre :
« Mon père, encore un peu ! ma mère, encore un jour !
« M’entends-tu ? je suis là, je reste pour t’attendre
« Sur l’échelon d’en bas de l’échelle d’amour.

« Je t’attends pour pouvoir nous en aller ensemble.
« Cette vie est amère, et tu vas en sortir.
« Pauvre coeur, ne crains rien, Dieu vit ! la mort rassemble.
« Tu redeviendras ange ayant été martyr. »

Oh ! quand donc viendrez-vous ? Vous retrouver, c’est naître.
Quand verrons-nous, ainsi qu’un idéal flambeau,
La douce étoile mort, rayonnante, apparaître
A ce noir horizon qu’on nomme le tombeau ?

Quand nous en irons-nous où vous êtes, colombes !
Où sont les enfants morts et les printemps enfuis,
Et tous les chers amours dont nous sommes les tombes,
Et toutes les clartés dont nous sommes les nuits ?

Vers ce grand ciel clément où sont tous les dictames,
Les aimés, les absents, les êtres purs et doux,
Les baisers des esprits et les regards des âmes,
Quand nous en irons-nous ? quand nous en irons-nous ?

Quand nous en irons-nous où sont l’aube et la foudre ?
Quand verrons-nous, déjà libres, hommes encor,
Notre chair ténébreuse en rayons se dissoudre,
Et nos pieds faits de nuit éclore en ailes d’or ?

Quand nous enfuirons-nous dans la joie infinie
Où les hymnes vivants sont des anges voilés,
Où l’on voit, à travers l’azur de l’harmonie,
La strophe bleue errer sur les luths étoilés ?

Quand viendrez-vous chercher notre humble coeur qui sombre ?
Quand nous reprendrez-vous à ce monde charnel,
Pour nous bercer ensemble aux profondeurs de l’ombre,
Sous l’éblouissement du regard éternel ?

Victor Hugo
(1802-1885)
Claire
(Poème)

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Sophie Albrecht: Im Junius 1783 (Gedicht)

 

Im Junius 1783

Vergebens steigt der Tag in lichten Farben
Vergebens hüllt in Schimmer sich die Nacht
Mein Herz bleibt kalt, seitdem die Wünsche starben
Die schön dich mir, du Tag und Nacht! gemacht
Obs Winter ist, ob Veilchen um mich blühen
Ob Rabe krächzt, ob Lerche um mich schwirrt
Obs Mondennacht, ob Donnerwolken ziehen
Ist der gleichviel, die ohne Wünsche irrt.

Sophie Albrecht
(1757-1840)
Gedicht
Im Junius 1783

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More in: Archive A-B, Archive A-B, CLASSIC POETRY, Galerie Deutschland


Emily Dickinson: Because I could not stop for Death

 

Because I could not
stop for Death

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed Us –
The Dews drew quivering and Chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – ’tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –

Emily Dickinson
(1830-1886)
Because I could not stop for Death

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Paul Laurence Dunbar: The Lynching Of Jube Benson. Short story

THE LYNCHING OF JUBE BENSON

Gordon Fairfax’s library held but three men, but the air was dense with clouds of smoke. The talk had drifted from one topic to another much as the smoke wreaths had puffed, floated, and thinned away. Then Handon Gay, who was an ambitious young reporter, spoke of a lynching story in a recent magazine, and the matter of punishment without trial put new life into the conversation.

“I should like to see a real lynching,” said Gay rather callously.

“Well, I should hardly express it that way,” said Fairfax, “but if a real, live lynching were to come my way, I should not avoid it.”

“I should,” spoke the other from the depths of his chair, where he had been puffing in moody silence. Judged by his hair, which was freely sprinkled with gray, the speaker might have been a man of forty-five or fifty, but his face, though lined and serious, was youthful, the face of a man hardly past thirty.

“What, you, Dr. Melville? Why, I thought that you physicians wouldn’t weaken at anything.”

“I have seen one such affair,” said the doctor gravely, “in fact, I took a prominent part in it.”

“Tell us about it,” said the reporter, feeling for his pencil and notebook, which he was, nevertheless, careful to hide from the speaker.

The men drew their chairs eagerly up to the doctor’s, but for a minute he did not seem to see them, but sat gazing abstractedly into the fire, then he took a long draw upon his cigar and began:

“I can see it all very vividly now. It was in the summer time and about seven years ago. I was practising at the time down in the little town of Bradford. It was a small and primitive place, just the location for an impecunious medical man, recently out of college.

“In lieu of a regular office, I attended to business in the first of two rooms which I rented from Hiram Daly, one of the more prosperous of the townsmen. Here I boarded and here also came my patients—white and black—whites from every section, and blacks from ‘nigger town,’ as the west portion of the place was called.

“The people about me were most of them coarse and rough, but they were simple and generous, and as time passed on I had about abandoned my intention of seeking distinction in wider fields and determined to settle into the place of a modest country doctor. This was rather a strange conclusion for a young man to arrive at, and I will not deny that the presence in the house of my host’s beautiful young daughter, Annie, had something to do with my decision. She was a beautiful young girl of seventeen or eighteen, and very far superior to her surroundings. She had a native grace and a pleasing way about her that made everybody that came under her spell her abject slave. White and black who knew her loved her, and none, I thought, more deeply and respectfully than Jube Benson, the black man of all work about the place.

“He was a fellow whom everybody trusted; an apparently steady-going, grinning sort, as we used to call him. Well, he was completely under Miss Annie’s thumb, and would fetch and carry for her like a faithful dog. As soon as he saw that I began to care for Annie, and anybody could see that, he transferred some of his allegiance to me and became my faithful servitor also. Never did a man have a more devoted adherent in his wooing than did I, and many a one of Annie’s tasks which he volunteered to do gave her an extra hour with me. You can imagine that I liked the boy and you need not wonder any more that as both wooing and my practice waxed apace, I was content to give up my great ambitions and stay just where I was.

“It wasn’t a very pleasant thing, then, to have an epidemic of typhoid break out in the town that kept me going so that I hardly had time for the courting that a fellow wants to carry on with his sweetheart while he is still young enough to call her his girl. I fumed, but duty was duty, and I kept to my work night and day. It was now that Jube proved how invaluable he was as a coadjutor. He not only took messages to Annie, but brought sometimes little ones from her to me, and he would tell me little secret things that he had overheard her say that made me throb with joy and swear at him for repeating his mistress’ conversation. But best of all, Jube was a perfect Cerberus, and no one on earth could have been more effective in keeping away or deluding the other young fellows who visited the Dalys. He would tell me of it afterwards, chuckling softly to himself. ‘An,’ Doctah, I say to Mistah Hemp Stevens, “‘Scuse us, Mistah Stevens, but Miss Annie, she des gone out,” an’ den he go outer de gate lookin’ moughty lonesome. When Sam Elkins come, I say, “Sh, Mistah Elkins, Miss Annie, she done tuk down,” an’ he say, “What, Jube, you don’ reckon hit de——” Den he stop an’ look skeert, an’ I say, “I feared hit is, Mistah Elkins,” an’ sheks my haid ez solemn. He goes outer de gate lookin’ lak his bes’ frien’ done daid, an’ all de time Miss Annie behine de cu’tain ovah de po’ch des’ a laffin’ fit to kill.’

“Jube was a most admirable liar, but what could I do? He knew that I was a young fool of a hypocrite, and when I would rebuke him for these deceptions, he would give way and roll on the floor in an excess of delighted laughter until from very contagion I had to join him—and, well, there was no need of my preaching when there had been no beginning to his repentance and when there must ensue a continuance of his wrong-doing.

“This thing went on for over three months, and then, pouf! I was down like a shot. My patients were nearly all up, but the reaction from overwork made me an easy victim of the lurking germs. Then Jube loomed up as a nurse. He put everyone else aside, and with the doctor, a friend of mine from a neighbouring town, took entire charge of me. Even Annie herself was put aside, and I was cared for as tenderly as a baby. Tom, that was my physician and friend, told me all about it afterward with tears in his eyes. Only he was a big, blunt man and his expressions did not convey all that he meant. He told me how my nigger had nursed me as if I were a sick kitten and he my mother. Of how fiercely he guarded his right to be the sole one to ‘do’ for me, as he called it, and how, when the crisis came, he hovered, weeping, but hopeful, at my bedside, until it was safely passed, when they drove him, weak and exhausted, from the room. As for me, I knew little about it at the time, and cared less. I was too busy in my fight with death. To my chimerical vision there was only a black but gentle demon that came and went, alternating with a white fairy, who would insist on coming in on her head, growing larger and larger and then dissolving. But the pathos and devotion in the story lost nothing in my blunt friend’s telling.

“It was during the period of a long convalescence, however, that I came to know my humble ally as he really was, devoted to the point of abjectness. There were times when for very shame at his goodness to me, I would beg him to go away, to do something else. He would go, but before I had time to realise that I was not being ministered to, he would be back at my side, grinning and pottering just the same. He manufactured duties for the joy of performing them. He pretended to see desires in me that I never had, because he liked to pander to them, and when I became entirely exasperated, and ripped out a good round oath, he chuckled with the remark, ‘Dah, now, you sholy is gittin’ well. Nevah did hyeah a man anywhaih nigh Jo’dan’s sho’ cuss lak dat.’

“Why, I grew to love him, love him, oh, yes, I loved him as well—oh, what am I saying? All human love and gratitude are damned poor things; excuse me, gentlemen, this isn’t a pleasant story. The truth is usually a nasty thing to stand.

“It was not six months after that that my friendship to Jube, which he had been at such great pains to win, was put to too severe a test.

“It was in the summer time again, and as business was slack, I had ridden over to see my friend, Dr. Tom. I had spent a good part of the day there, and it was past four o’clock when I rode leisurely into Bradford. I was in a particularly joyous mood and no premonition of the impending catastrophe oppressed me. No sense of sorrow, present or to come, forced itself upon me, even when I saw men hurrying through the almost deserted streets. When I got within sight of my home and saw a crowd surrounding it, I was only interested sufficiently to spur my horse into a jog trot, which brought me up to the throng, when something in the sullen, settled horror in the men’s faces gave me a sudden, sick thrill. They whispered a word to me, and without a thought, save for Annie, the girl who had been so surely growing into my heart, I leaped from the saddle and tore my way through the people to the house.

“It was Annie, poor girl, bruised and bleeding, her face and dress torn from struggling. They were gathered round her with white faces, and, oh, with what terrible patience they were trying to gain from her fluttering lips the name of her murderer. They made way for me and I knelt at her side. She was beyond my skill, and my will merged with theirs. One thought was in our minds.

“‘Who?’ I asked.

“Her eyes half opened, ‘That black——’ She fell back into my arms dead.

“We turned and looked at each other. The mother had broken down and was weeping, but the face of the father was like iron.

“‘It is enough,’ he said; ‘Jube has disappeared.’ He went to the door and said to the expectant crowd, ‘She is dead.’

“I heard the angry roar without swelling up like the noise of a flood, and then I heard the sudden movement of many feet as the men separated into searching parties, and laying the dead girl back upon her couch, I took my rifle and went out to join them.

“As if by intuition the knowledge had passed among the men that Jube Benson had disappeared, and he, by common consent, was to be the object of our search. Fully a dozen of the citizens had seen him hastening toward the woods and noted his skulking air, but as he had grinned in his old good-natured way they had, at the time, thought nothing of it. Now, however, the diabolical reason of his slyness was apparent. He had been shrewd enough to disarm suspicion, and by now was far away. Even Mrs. Daly, who was visiting with a neighbour, had seen him stepping out by a back way, and had said with a laugh, ‘I reckon that black rascal’s a-running off somewhere.’ Oh, if she had only known.

“‘To the woods! To the woods!’ that was the cry, and away we went, each with the determination not to shoot, but to bring the culprit alive into town, and then to deal with him as his crime deserved.

“I cannot describe the feelings I experienced as I went out that night to beat the woods for this human tiger. My heart smouldered within me like a coal, and I went forward under the impulse of a will that was half my own, half some more malignant power’s. My throat throbbed drily, but water nor whiskey would not have quenched my thirst. The thought has come to me since that now I could interpret the panther’s desire for blood and sympathise with it, but then I thought nothing. I simply went forward, and watched, watched with burning eyes for a familiar form that I had looked for as often before with such different emotions.

“Luck or ill-luck, which you will, was with our party, and just as dawn was graying the sky, we came upon our quarry crouched in the corner of a fence. It was only half light, and we might have passed, but my eyes had caught sight of him, and I raised the cry. We levelled our guns and he rose and came toward us.

“‘I t’ought you wa’n’t gwine see me,’ he said sullenly, ‘I didn’t mean no harm.’

“‘Harm!’

“Some of the men took the word up with oaths, others were ominously silent.

“We gathered around him like hungry beasts, and I began to see terror dawning in his eyes. He turned to me, ‘I’s moughty glad you’s hyeah, doc,’ he said, ‘you ain’t gwine let ’em whup me.’

“‘Whip you, you hound,’ I said, ‘I’m going to see you hanged,’ and in the excess of my passion I struck him full on the mouth. He made a motion as if to resent the blow against even such great odds, but controlled himself.

“‘W’y, doctah,’ he exclaimed in the saddest voice I have ever heard, ‘w’y, doctah! I ain’t stole nuffin’ o’ yo’n, an’ I was comin’ back. I only run off to see my gal, Lucy, ovah to de Centah.’

“‘You lie!’ I said, and my hands were busy helping the others bind him upon a horse. Why did I do it? I don’t know. A false education, I reckon, one false from the beginning. I saw his black face glooming there in the half light, and I could only think of him as a monster. It’s tradition. At first I was told that the black man would catch me, and when I got over that, they taught me that the devil was black, and when I had recovered from the sickness of that belief, here were Jube and his fellows with faces of menacing blackness. There was only one conclusion: This black man stood for all the powers of evil, the result of whose machinations had been gathering in my mind from childhood up. But this has nothing to do with what happened.

“After firing a few shots to announce our capture, we rode back into town with Jube. The ingathering parties from all directions met us as we made our way up to the house. All was very quiet and orderly. There was no doubt that it was as the papers would have said, a gathering of the best citizens. It was a gathering of stern, determined men, bent on a terrible vengeance.

“We took Jube into the house, into the room where the corpse lay. At sight of it, he gave a scream like an animal’s and his face went the colour of storm-blown water. This was enough to condemn him. We divined, rather than heard, his cry of ‘Miss Ann, Miss Ann, oh, my God, doc, you don’t t’ink I done it?’

“Hungry hands were ready. We hurried him out into the yard. A rope was ready. A tree was at hand. Well, that part was the least of it, save that Hiram Daly stepped aside to let me be the first to pull upon the rope. It was lax at first. Then it tightened, and I felt the quivering soft weight resist my muscles. Other hands joined, and Jube swung off his feet.

“No one was masked. We knew each other. Not even the Culprit’s face was covered, and the last I remember of him as he went into the air was a look of sad reproach that will remain with me until I meet him face to face again.

“We were tying the end of the rope to a tree, where the dead man might hang as a warning to his fellows, when a terrible cry chilled us to the marrow.

“‘Cut ‘im down, cut ‘im down, he ain’t guilty. We got de one. Cut him down, fu’ Gawd’s sake. Here’s de man, we foun’ him hidin’ in de barn!’

“Jube’s brother, Ben, and another Negro, came rushing toward us, half dragging, half carrying a miserable-looking wretch between them. Someone cut the rope and Jube dropped lifeless to the ground.

“‘Oh, my Gawd, he’s daid, he’s daid!’ wailed the brother, but with blazing eyes he brought his captive into the centre of the group, and we saw in the full light the scratched face of Tom Skinner—the worst white ruffian in the town—but the face we saw was not as we were accustomed to see it, merely smeared with dirt. It was blackened to imitate a Negro’s.

“God forgive me; I could not wait to try to resuscitate Jube. I knew he was already past help, so I rushed into the house and to the dead girl’s side. In the excitement they had not yet washed or laid her out. Carefully, carefully, I searched underneath her broken finger nails. There was skin there. I took it out, the little curled pieces, and went with it to my office.

“There, determinedly, I examined it under a powerful glass, and read my own doom. It was the skin of a white man, and in it were embedded strands of short, brown hair or beard.

“How I went out to tell the waiting crowd I do not know, for something kept crying in my ears, ‘Blood guilty! Blood guilty!’

“The men went away stricken into silence and awe. The new prisoner attempted neither denial nor plea. When they were gone I would have helped Ben carry his brother in, but he waved me away fiercely, ‘You he’ped murder my brothah, you dat was his frien’, go ‘way, go ‘way! I’ll tek him home myse’f’ I could only respect his wish, and he and his comrade took up the dead man and between them bore him up the street on which the sun was now shining full.

“I saw the few men who had not skulked indoors uncover as they passed, and I—I—stood there between the two murdered ones, while all the while something in my ears kept crying, ‘Blood guilty! Blood guilty!'”

The doctor’s head dropped into his hands and he sat for some time in silence, which was broken by neither of the men, then he rose, saying, “Gentlemen, that was my last lynching.”

Paul Laurence Dunbar
(1872 – 1906)
The Lynching Of Jube Benson
From The Heart Of Happy Hollow, a collection of short stories reprinted in 1904 by Dodd, Mead and Company, New York.
Short Story

• fleursdumal.nl magazine

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