Friday, October 10, 2014

The Partisans

To listen to The Partisans, click here

In the early hours of evening
We bind ourselves with blood
And stirring up the water
We wade into the flood

And we do not come in hatred
We do not come in love
And we do not ask forgiveness
We come to kill the dove

And do not ask our names now
For we have none to give
We come to crucify the dove
So that she may live

And do not speak of justice
Do not ask for proof
We come here to bear witness
But we do not promise truth

For there is no way of judging
Who is right and who is wrong
And there is no point in weeping
For the victims of this song

Because you make some kind of virtue
Out of loneliness and pain
And while the city crumbles
You sit polishing your chains

And you build yourselves a fortress
Out of arguments of stone
But on the stroke of midnight
You find yourselves alone

And you speak out for the children
And you cry out to be loved
And you signal your surrender
With the feathers of your dove

And you who raise your banners now
Will they stand or will they fall
And the ringing of the church bells
Do they chime or do they toll

And you beg us to be silent
But you hold us back with words
Now we’re tired of your appeasements
You’re gonna get what you deserve

And we do not come in hatred
We do not come in love
And we do not ask forgiveness
We come to kill the dove

When I was living in Toronto, running a Jewish school there, the Toronto Star published several out-of-context poems and prose-fragments on their front page, wondering if this was the kind of material a school headmaster should be writing. One of the pieces was an excerpt from my novel "The Flaming Sword", from that moment in the story when Bernhard Aaronsohn, the central character, having trained with the French Resistance, was about to undertake his own first mission, and had to deal with the moral dilemma which, frankly, every soldier in war faces: how to accept the horrible necessity of killing, and do it. To help him, he wrote the poem which the Toronto Star published, though in the process of writing that passage, I also wrote this song, "The Partisans", which did not find a place in the novel:


                                    The first act of killing is the hardest
                                    not because human flesh
                                    not because human life
                                    not because fear of failing
                                    The first blow merely breaks the spirit
                                    but the letter of the Law is smashed

                                    Forget morality then - imagine -
                                    imagine diving into a swimming pool
                                    If you simply throw off your towel
                                    walk resolutely to the steps
                                    climb the ladder to the diving-board
                                    put out your arms and leap
                                    if you do it that way - why it’s easy -
                                    it’s done before you even know it

                                    But if you stop and think
                                    put in a toe to test the water
                                    stand on the edge and watch the distance grow
                                    why you can stand there till the blood runs cold
                                    and never get to swim

                                    The first act of killing is the hardest
                                    yet the bullet like a body
                                    pierces the pool of flesh
                                    and blood is much thicker than water
                                    and the second time is remarkably straightforward

If you would like to include "The Partisans" in your repertoire, either for paid public performance or to record for commercial purposes, or if you would like to re-use the recordings attached to this blog-page for commercial purposes, contact 
Use of this song, and/or these recordings, for non-commercial purposes, is not simply permitted but invited.

Words and music by David Prashker

Copyright © 2014 David Prashker

All rights reserved

The Argaman Press

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