Fury For Books

There, where one burns books…one, in the end, burns men.

-Heinrich Heine

The night crackled as we swaggered to the square,
the urgent moonlight hastening our passage.
Books in our hands, ready for the offering.
Tonight, young Germany stalks its destiny.

We entered the square, 40,000 strong in Berlin.
We heard bands playing songs, saw lovers holding hands,
people talking about the weather on a cool May night.
We pushed our way to the front of the crowd and held out the books.
Mine was Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species,
daring to blaspheme that Man descended from apes
Instead of being made in God’s holy image.
It was bathed in kerosene and I tossed it into the looming pile.

In order to cleanse ourselves of evil influences,
We shall build a bonfire and burn away these sins.
These prejudiced foreign voices must be silenced,
decadent lifestyles, corrupted politics.
They are not the future for our nation.

As the church bells chimed twelve,
Torches were thrown into the pile. The pages started to smoke.
And as the bells rang louder the smoke turned to flame.
The flames grew tall. Taller than the Tower of Babel.
The dazzling light shone forever they saw it from Hamburg all the way to Munich.
We cried from pride.
We owned the night.
We Owned The World!

Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Vladimir Lenin, Mark Twain, Victor Hugo and Karl Marx
Turned to ash and returned to the Earth.

And fire led to war and war led to death.
The bodies piled up higher than the books.