Yevtushenko\'s Babi Yar

Babi Yar, a poem written by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, tells the story
of the Nazi invasion into a small part of Russia, in which, throughout
the duration of World War II, over one-hundred thousand Jews, Gypsies
and Russian POW\'s were brutally murdered. However, what is unique
about this particular perspective is that the narrator is not a Jew,
but a mere observer who is aghast at the atrocities that took place
during the Holocaust. It is through allusions, as well as other
literary devices, that Yevtushenko elucidates caustically the
absurdities of the hatred that caused the Holocaust, in addition to
the narrator\'s identification with the Jews and their history of
oppression.

Perhaps, the most effective literary device used in "Babi Yar" is
the allusion. The first clear allusion seen in the poem is the one
concerning Egypt(line 6). This reference harks back to the Jews\'
enslavement in Egypt before they become a nation. In line 7, the
narrator makes reference to how so many Jews perished on the cross.

The reason for these initial allusions in the first section is clear.

Yevtushenko is establishing the history of the Jewish people, being
one of oppression, prejudice, and innocent victims. The next illusion
in the poem is a reference to the Dreyfus Affair, a more modern
display of irrational and avid anti-Semitism. It is in the Dreyfus
affair that an innocent man is accused of espionage and is sent to
jail for more than ten years, notwithstanding an overwhelming amount
of evidence pointing to his innocence, simply because he is a Jew.

Yevtushenko uses these allusions to lead up to his referral to a
boy in Bielostok who is murdered by the Russian common-folk. Clearly,

The narrator is teaching a lesson with a dual message. Firstly, he is
informing the reader of the horrors that took place in Russia during
the Holocaust. Perhaps even more of a travesty, however, is the fact
that humankind has not learned from the past in light of the fact that
this "episode" is merely one link in a long chain of terrors.

Yevtushenko goes on to allude to Anne Frank, a young Jewish
teenager who left behind a diary of her thoughts and dreams,
and how the Nazis strip her of any potential future she has when she
is murdered in the death camps. Clearly, the allusion creates images
in the mind of the reader that mere descriptions via the use of words
could not.

Another effective literary device used in the poem is the first
person narrative in which the narrator identifies with those victims
which he describes. This is seen in the case where the narrator says

"I am Dreyfus", or "Anne Frank, I am she." The narrator does not claim
to understand what the feelings and thoughts of these people are, but
rather, he is acknowledging the fact that they are feeling, "detested
and denounced" and that unlike the rest of the world who turned its
head, or the Russians who actually abetted such heinous crimes, this
gentile narrator can not empathize, but does sympathize with his

Jewish "brethren."

Another extremely powerful device used by Yevtushenko is the
detail of description and imagery used to describe events and
feelings that are in both those whom he identifies with, as well as
himself. "I bear the red mark of nails"(line 8) seems to include
much of the suffering that the Jews have to endure. The statement is
almost one of a reverse crucifixion in which the Jews are crucified
and now have to suffer with false accusations, blood libels, and

Pogroms for the duration of time. The poet describes very clearly the
contempt most people have for the Jewish people and how many of these
people aided in the barbarity . In line 13, for example, the poet
speaks of "shrieking ladies in fine ruffled gowns" who "brandish their
umbrellas in my face." In addition, Yevtushenko also depicts
explicitly how the "tavern masters celebrate" at the sight of "(a

Jewish boy\'s)blood spurt and spread over the floor."

The contrast of age in "Babi Yar" is also quite effective. In the
last three sections, the reader finds out that the narrator is
remembering the past, mourning those who have perished. This gives the
reader the perspective of one who speaks of the tragedy as though he
is removed from it, as well as the view of one who is part of that
history of horror in which all must remember, memorialize, learn from,
and never forget.

Clearly, "Babi Yar" is a poem about the tragedy of the Holocaust
and how its effects and teachings transcend race, religion, color, and
sex, and involves the whole of the