Written in Pencil in a Sealed Boxcar, Dan Pagis

Here in this transport
I am Eve
With Abel my son
If you see my older son
Cain, son of Adam,
Tell him that I am

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7 responses to “Written in Pencil in a Sealed Boxcar, Dan Pagis

  1. This is one of my favorite poems. I love its brevity and compactness, its fleetingness and poignancy. I love the fact that it is circular, never ending but also never progressing. I am intrigued by the subtextual comments that Pagis, himself a Holocaust survivor, is making about the nature of humanity.

  2. I came across this poem in Tsipi Keller’s “The Prophet of Tenth Street”. Haunting in its openedness. Ms. Keller ultimately has one answer in her novel.

  3. what does this mean

  4. I’m going to have to read this novel! Thanks for the referral!

  5. Joe, an interesting question! I guess that, as in most poetry, a large proportion of the meaning is dependent on the reader’s perspective – what do you think it means?

  6. I’ve always loved this poem. Pretty amazing what it packs into six lines. Joe, I’d start with knowing that the poet is a Holocaust survivor. One of the enduring questions is how does man do something like this to man? Cain killed his brother. It should be mentioned also that although the Bible notes the age of Adam’s death, it says nothing about Eve’s. So you’ve got this woman, the Mother of Everyone, if you buy into that, her death is already a mystery of the ages, and she’s got one son being shipped off the the camps and one who is not inside that boxcar. Is he complicit in the evil? She doesn’t even get to finish her thought at the end. Was she going to forgive Cain? Was she going to curse him? We don’t get to find out. All that we know about her dies in that boxcar.

  7. Geoff, it says a great deal about the human spirit, too, don’t you think? And perhaps how we choose to respond to events like the Holocaust. In a way this poem is an ‘every man’ (or woman) poem.

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