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After the war

Menuhin defended

Herr Furtwengler.

He was, at that time,

encased in his own

sorrow, so watching

his gift slide away,

he attempted his

new art of forgiveness.

 

When Furtwengler

was seen to give the

Hitler salute, one

saw his Adam’s apple

bob in nothing less

than anguish. While

conducting the Ninth

in Berlin that Christmas,

could he smell the smoke

rising in Auschwitz?

Did the crescendos

dissolve powder that

had been people?

 

Artists have nothing

to say but their art.

Teach them silence

and shame in their

surety.

 

 

 

Author’s Note: These poems are about the reaction of the German classical music establishment, supreme during the Weimar period, to the coming of Hitler. And of course they are about twentieth century Jewish history. This poem, Menuhin and Furtwengler, was published in Midstream in 2005.

 

 

 

Stephen Kaplan: I was born in 1936. I will be eighty next March (2016). I have worked as a painter and poet since my late teens. In 2000 I was awarded a Pollack-Krasner Foundation grant in painting. My paintings can be seen on their web site pkf.org, scroll to grantees and then my name, Stan Kaplan. When I publish poetry I use Stephen Kaplan. I was nine when the war ended and for the first time I saw survivors who came to visit us at our Brooklyn apartment. Then came the photographs and newsreels. As a working artist, I was interested in the life and work of the artists I admired, in particular those of the twentieth century, and their reaction to the horrendous events they lived through, consequently these poems. My poems have been published in a number of journals, the most relevant being Midstream, and two New York City themed anthologies, Tokens and Bridges.
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