Poems, by Hannah Senesh
12/22/2010 - 11:32

This week I wrote a review of the Hannah Senesh exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.  A  wealthy Jewish girl from Hungary, Senesh immigrated to Palestine in 1939, when she was 17.  After a few years there, however, she felt isolated from world events: put simply, the war in Europe.  So when the British organized a Jewish brigade in Palestine to help them rescue Allied forces caught behind enemy lines, she signed on.  

She was eventually captured on a mission in Hungary, on her way to find her mother.  She was ordered executed by firing squad and was killed on November 7, 1944.  She was 23.

Read my story for a fuller picture of her life, but if time is short, at least spend a couple minutes reading what she's most famous for: her poems.  Written while in Hungary, Palestine, and even in prison, it's Senesh's visionary, pained and sometimes ecstatic voice that made her much more than a war hero.  She has become the conscience of a people.

"Eli, Eli," written in 1942 while in Palestine; her most famous poem.

My God, My God, I pray that these things never end,
The sand and the sea,
The rustle of the waters,
Lightning of the Heavens,
The prayer of Man.

The voice called, and I went.
I went, because the voice called.

"One, Two, Three," written in 1944 in her cell, not long after being captured in Hungary.

One - two - three... eight feet long
Two strides across, the rest is dark...
Life is a fleeting question mark
One - two - three... maybe another week.
Or the next month may still find me here,
But death, I feel is very near.
I could have been 23 next July
I gambled on what mattered most, the dice were cast. I lost.


view counter

Add comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Comment Guidelines

The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.


I pray and support Israel every day. May God continue to bless and prosper you.
To God be the glory. So blessed to find Hannah Senesh's poems. Blessings to
you all. Sandra

She wrote so much more too. The only thing I can attribute to her terrible loss is that it inspires me to do more with my life.

Though I am not jewish, I thank you Hannah. Thank you for all that you gave to me.

Beautiful poetry ~ thank you God for giving us an admirable women of substance ~ her poems are so heart felt ~ ~ they touch your heart to endure her pain ~ and yet her courageous love that speaks volumes ~
Thank you ~

I'm reading these for school. These are beautiful.

I am not Jewish, but I first read "So Young To Die: The Story of Hannah Senesh" when I was still in grade school. I have read this book at least 12 or 13 times since. Her poems are touching and courageous. Although I have studied the facts about the war throughout my education, nothing has every appealed or touched me the way the story of Ms. Senesh did. She was not only courageous but inspirational and incredible. The world became less without her, but her spirit, I can see, truly lives on.

I'm not sure how she became known to me, yet every word and thought from her life strengthens similar emotions within and inspires / compels me to be true to my own .
Hazak "v'ematz' is tattooed on my forarm in honor of her and all like her that stood .

I am going to share Chana Senesh story with my interfaqith women group when we're going to share Chanukah at the last candle