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  • This is the hardest: to give away
    And know that you are superfluous,
    to give themselves entirely to think,
    that like smoke melts into nothingness.

    ~Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger~ (translated from German using Google Translate)

    Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger (August 15, 1924 – December 16, 1942) was a Romanian-born German-language poet. A Jew, she was a victim of the Holocaust and died at the age of 18 in a labor camp in Ukraine.

    Meerbaum-Eisinger was the daughter of the shopkeeper Max Meerbaum in Cernăuţi (Czernowitz), a town in the Northern Bukovina region of the Romanian Kingdom (now Chernivtsi,in Ukraine). Eisinger was the surname of her stepfather. At an early age she began to study literature. Her work shows a heavy influence from those she studied: Heinrich Heine, Rainer Maria Rilke, Klabund, Paul Verlaine and Rabindranath Tagore. In 1939 she began to write poetry, and was already a skilled translator, being able to translate between French,Romanian, Yiddish and her native German. After German troops invaded in July 1941, and the region where she lived was ceded to the Soviet Union in 1940, the family was forced to relocate to the city's ghetto. In 1942 the family was deported to the Mikhailovska labor camp in rural Ukraine, where Selma soon died of typhus.

    Meerbaum-Eisinger's work comprises 57 poems, which were written in pencil and hand-bound into a volume named Blütenlese (English: Blossom Vintage/The Reaping of Blossoms). Fifty-two poems were her own and the rest were translations from French, Yiddish, and Romanian. The volume was dedicated to her love and best friend, Lejser Fichman, a year her senior. It was planned that Fichman would give the book of poems to another friend of Meerbaum-Eisinger's, who would have the book published upon its arrival in Israel. However, Fichman died en route and was unable to transmit the book. Her poems were rediscovered and published by Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Israel, in 1979, edited by Adolf Rauchwerger. In 1980 they were then published in Germany, through the efforts of journalist and researcher Jürgen Serke. The lost volume was published in its entirety under the titleIch bin in Sehnsucht eingehüllt (English: I am engulfed in longing). An audiobook of the poems was produced in November 2005.
    ~Source: Wikipedia~

    When the original story was posted yesterday by Kiki Suarez, there was something about that poem that led me to seek another translation. What I found was a truly profound statement of faith, a faith that could not be shaken by the threat of execution or the impending death of the author. I do not know when this poem was written, if it was before she was imprisoned or after, but like Kiki I have my images in my head.

    ”What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life.” - Romans 6: 1-4 [KJV]

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