Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem

Hear the names now, as they call:
millions of faceless syllables, without end.
As they become nameless they fall;
broken, in a muteness that time cannot mend.

The stars send their airy ray of light,
touching the earth after billions of years.
And so the names sound from afar, might
hit the ground. The collision tears

the ground, in the broken earth
names are lost, they sink and disappear;
forever gone –  or so it seems – their worth.
Will their light shine once more, down here?

The breach – the earth, void, without form,
tempest shivering under the Spirit’s breath.
Creation, yet not peaceful, but torn:
contaminated imperfection, sheer death.

The Creator, whom we blame
– and do we have a choice? – he paid:
syllables in his body engraved, broken now the Name,
the earth a grave, where his body lay.

His blood added to endless streams
of those who with him entered the ground.
And despite this death, we do have dreams
of resurrection, of life, a trumpet sound,

of names that shine again, behold!
Engraved in the star-counter’s Name,
names become eternal stories told
as name and blood are fused in flame.

Yad Vashem (original)

Hoor de namen die hier klinken
eindeloos, een eeuwigheid;
ze worden naamloos en verzinken
gebroken, stomgeslagen door de tijd.

Als ijle lichtstraal van de sterren
die de aarde pas veel later raakt,
klinken namen hier van verre;
slaan in – de bodem kraakt –

en verdwijnen in gescheurde aarde.
De namen zinken, en verdwijnen,
voorgoed verloren lijkt hun waarde;
zal hun licht hier ooit nog schijnen?

De breuk – de aarde, woest en ledig,
een stormvloed door de Geest beroerd;
een schepping – nu niet vredig,
doch in onvolmaaktheid volvoerd.

De Schepper – die wij beklagen om dit lijden –
heeft daar zelf voor willen boeten,
liet de tekenen der tijden
slaan in handen en in voeten.

Zijn bloed bij dat van velen
met hem de aarde in gegaan;
zijn wonden zullen helen
als hij met hen op zal staan.

Namen die nu stralen
met de Naam van hem die alle sterren telt;
namen, eeuwige verhalen
en licht en naam en bloed versmelt.

André Groenendijk is a poet-theologian from the Netherlands interested in the intersection of trinitarian theology, metaphysics, a phenomenology of desire, and (post-)modernity.

This poem was written after a visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance center in Jerusalem. The poem’s imagery refers to the Children’s Memorial: ‘This unique memorial, hollowed out from an underground cavern, is a tribute to the approximately 1.5 million Jewish children who were murdered during the Holocaust. Memorial candles, a customary Jewish tradition to remember the dead, are reflected infinitely in a dark and somber space, creating the impression of millions of stars shining in the firmament. The names of murdered children, their ages and countries of origin can be heard in the background” (from