While Bonhoeffer was imprisoned under suspicion of conspiracy against the Nazi’s, he wrote this poem based on Deuteronomy 34:1. To learn more about Bonhoeffer, watch the documentary Hanged on a Twisted Cross. In the film, the image of Jesus carrying the Nazi cross is shown. You can see it at the end of the poem. It’s a sickening image of what Bonhoeffer fought against and how Hitler and his henchmen manipulated the church and used it for their own propaganda purposes.
The Death of Moses by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Upon the mountain’s summit stands at last
Moses, the prophet and the man of God.
Unwavering his eyes look on the view,
survey the promised scene, the holy land.
Now, Lord, thy promises have been fulfilled,
to me thy word has been for ever sure.
Deliverance and salvation are thy gifts,
thy anger chastens, casts away, consumes.
Eternal faithful Lord, thy faithless slave
knows well – at all times righteous is thy will.
So now, today, inflict my punishment,
enfold me in the long dark sleep of death.
Rich grow the vineyards in the holy land;
faith only knows the promise of their wine.
Pour for the doubter, then, his bitter draught,
and let his faith proclaim thy thanks and praise.
Wondrous the works which thou hast done by me,
changing my cup from gall to sweet delight.
Grant me to witness through the veil of death
my people at their high triumphant feast.
I fail, and sink in thine eternity,
but see my people marching forward, free.
God quick to punish sin or to forgive,
thou knowest how this people has my love.
Enough that I have borne its shame and sin
and seen salvation—now I need not live.
Stay, hold my nerveless hands, let fall my staff;
thou faithful God, prepare me for my grave.