Primo Levi’s Chemistry

No trace of egotistical sublime
contaminates his sombre chemistry.
He keeps his cool, stays rational and calm,
objective and meticulous,
while scoping poisons of the mind,

distilling out iniquities,
describing compounds of the ultra-vile.
He knows that his analysis of what
is darkness and unspeakable may fail
unless precise and well-defined;

and so with utmost pains he filters out
the residues of evil where they lie
in cess and ash and pestilence.
We follow through the Lager gates
into killing-grounds behind,

where as witness he will verify
the death and suffering of those
who sank from sight and drowned in countless shoals,
and for whose fate he catalyses
agonies of heart and mind.

– David Morphet 2005