Questions for Shomrim
By Leonard Cohen
And will my people build a new Dachau
And call it love,
For dark-eyed children
Burning in the stars
Will all our songs screech
Like the maddened eagles of the night
Until Yiddish, Arabic, Hebrew, and Vietnamese
Are a thin thread of blood clawing up the side of
Unspeaking steel chambers
I know you, Chaverim
The lost young summer nights of our childhood
We spent on street corners looking for life
In our scanty drops of Marx and Borochov.
You taught me the Italian Symphony
And the New World
And gave a skit about blowing up Arab children.
You taught me many songs
But none so sad
As napalm falling slowly in the dark
You were our singing heroes in ’48
Do you dare ask yourselves what you are now
We, you and I, were lovers once
As only wild nights of wrestling in golden snow
Can make one love
We hiked by moonlight
And you asked me to lead the Internationale
And now my son must die
For he’s an Arab
And my mother, too, for she’s a Jew
And you and I
Can only cry and wonder
Must Jewish people
Build our Dachaus, too?
Leonard Cohen was an Anti-Zionist. This poem of Questions was for a Zionist youth movement he had formerly participated in. It was written in the 1970s and published in 2010..
Leonard Norman Cohen (September 21, 1934 – November 7, 2016) was a Canadian singer-songwriter, poet, and novelist. Themes commonly explored throughout his work include faith and mortality, isolation and depression, betrayal and redemption, social and political conflict, and sexual and romantic love, desire, regret, and loss.