Hecht, Anthony: The Vow

Portre of Hecht, Anthony

The Vow (English)

In the third month, a sudden flow of blood.

The mirth of tabrets ceaseth, and the joy

Also of the harp. The frail image of God

Lay spilled and formless. Neither girl nor boy,

But yet blood of my blood, nearly my child.

All that long day

Her pale face turned to the window's mild

Featureless grey.


And for some nights she whimpered as she dreamed

The dead thing spoke, saying: "Do not recall

Pleasure at my conception. I am redeemed

From pain and sorrow. Mourn rather for all

Who breathlessly issue from the bone gates,

The gates of horn,

For truly it is best of all the fates

Not to be born.


"Mother, a child lay gasping for bare breath

On Christmas Eve when Santa Claus had set

Death in the stocking, and the lights of death

Flamed in the tree. O, if you can, forget

You were the child, turn to my father's lips

Against the time

When his cold hand puts forth its fingertips

Of jointed lime."


Doctors of Science, what is man that he

Should hope to come to a good end? The best

Is not to have been born. And could it be

That Jewish diligence and Irish jest

The consent of flesh and a midwinter storm

Had reconciled,

Was yet too bold a mixture to inform

A simple child?


Even as gold is tried, Gentile and Jew.

If that ghost was a girl's, I swear to it:

Your mother shall be far more blessed than you.

And if a boy's, I swear: The flames are lit

That shall refine us; they shall not destroy

A living hair.

Your younger brothers shall confirm in joy

That this I swear.

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