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The Song of Martin Fontasch

Leon Rosselson
Language: English



The story's told of how in 1942
Martin Fontasch, poet, carpenter and Jew
With a band of Partisans through in his lot
Till he was taken by the Germans to be shot.
He was a peaceful man, quick to laugh and cry
At every village celebration he'd be there
With his songs that told of sadness and of joy
And the guitar he carried with him everywhere.
But when the Nazis came and killed his wife and son
Martin traded his guitar in for a gun.

This song is for those who are cast out by history
The banned and abandoned, the spurned and ignored
Whose homes have been taken, whose dreams have been broken
Who huddled on hillsides, demand to be heard.

The German soldier assigned to kill the Jew
As it happened, was a music-lover too.
And this bond, it seems, is what made him decide
To offer Martin one last wish before he died.
Soon my soul, Martin said, will dance on air.
Now all I ask is time to write my farewell song.
The German soldier checked his watch and said: One hour.
One hour? Martin remarked…that long?
And so he wrote and sang full-voiced to raise the dead
And then the German put a bullet in his head.

And this song is for those who are cast out by history
The banned and abandoned, the spurned and ignored
Whose homes have been taken, whose dreams have been broken
Who huddled on hillsides, demand to be heard.

The German kept the song and bragged of what he'd done
And showed it proudly - when in drink - to everyone.
He couldn't read the words and didn't seem to see
That a song cannot take root unless it's free.
And then one night two partisans set out -
The song must be released the man must die -
They slipped into his quarters, slit his throat
Took back the song and gave it wings to fly.
And it soared upon the wind and came to rest
And found a home among the damned and dispossessed.

And his song was for those who are cast out by history
The banned and abandoned, the spurned and ignored
Whose homes have been taken, whose dreams have been broken
Who huddled on hillsides, demand to be heard.

Though we resist oppression, still our dream is peace,
Theirs is the mask of hatred, ours the human face.
Then let not our sufferings turn our souls to ice
So that we do to strangers what was done to us.
It is not with conquering armies I belong
Their bloody retribution I disown
Their songs of triumph I will never sing
For the God they worship turns them into stone.
If any teach their children how to hate and hurt,
Though they are Jews they do not live inside my heart.

And his song was for those who are cast out by history
The banned and abandoned, the spurned and ignored
Whose homes have been taken, whose dreams have been broken
Who huddled on hillsides, demand to be heard.

Let his song be a spark,
Let it fly through the dark like a bird.


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