**Suddenly I sat up,
As if, from a sinking ship, I had sighted land,
As if there were something to grasp, to seize,
As if I saw golden fruit ripen.
But wherever I look, grasp, or seize,
There is only the impenetrable mass of darkness.
I sink into brooding;
I sink myself into the depths of the dark.
You night, full of outrage and evil,
Make yourself known to me!
Why and for how long will you try our patience?
A deep and long silence;
Then I hear the night bend down to me:
‘I am not dark; only guilt is dark!’
Guilt! I hear a trembling and quaking,
A murmur, a lament that arises;
I hear men grow angry in spirit.
In the wild uproar of innumerable voices
A silent chorus
Assails God’s ear:
‘Pursued and hunted by men,
Made defenseless and accused,
Bearers of unbearable burdens,
We are yet the accusers.
‘We accuse those who plunged us into sin,
Who made us share the guilt,
Who made us the witnesses of injustice,
In order to despise their accomplices.
‘Our eyes had to see folly,
In order to bind us in deep guilt;
Then they stopped our mouths,
And we were as dumb as dogs.
‘We learned to lie easily,
To be at the disposal of open injustice;
If the defenseless was abused,
Then our eyes remained cold.
‘And that which burned in our hearts,
Remained silent and unnamed;
We quenched our fiery blood
And stamped out the inner flame.
‘The once holy bonds uniting men
Were mangled and flayed,
Friendship and faithfulness betrayed;
Tears and rue were reviled.
‘We sons of pious races,
One-time defenders of right and truth,
Became despisers of God and man,
Amid hellish laughter.
‘Yet though now robbed of freedom and honour,
We raise our heard proudly before men.
And if we are brought into disrepute,
Before men we declare our innocence.
‘Steady and firm we stand man against man;
As the accused we accuse!
‘Only before thee, source of all being,
Before thee we are sinners.
‘Afraid of suffering and poor in deeds,
We have betrayed thee before men.
‘We saw the lie raise its head,
And we did not honour the truth.
‘We saw brethren in direst need,
And feared only our own death.
‘We come before thee as men,
As confessors of our sins.
‘Lord, after the ferment of these times,
Send us times of assurance.
‘After so much going astray,
Let us see the day break.
‘Let there be ways built for us by thy word
As far as the eye can see.
‘Until thou wipe out our guilt,
Keep us in quiet patience.
‘We will silently prepare ourselves,
Till thou dost call to new times.
‘Until thou stillest storm and flood,
And thy will does wonders.
‘Brother, till the night be past,
Pray for me!’
The first light of morning creeps through my window pale and grey,
A light, warm summer wind blows over my brow.
‘Summer day,’ I will only say, ‘beautiful summer day!’
What may it bring to me?
Then I hear outside hasty, muffled steps;
Near me they stop suddenly.
I turn cold and hot,
For I know, oh, I know!
A soft voice reads something cutting and cold.
Control yourself, brother; soon you will have finished it, soon, soon.
I hear you stride bravely and with proud step.
You no longer see the present, you see the future.
I go with you, brother, to that place,
And I hear your last word:
‘Brother, when the sun turns pale for me,
Then live for me.’
Stretched out on my cot
I stare at the grey wall.
Outside a summer morning
Which is not yet mine
Goes brightly into the countryside.
Brother, till after the long night
Our day breaks
We stand fast!
By Dietrich Bonhoeffer**