Paul Celan

(23 November 1920 - 20 April 1970 / (Cernăuţi, Bukovin) Chernivtsi, Ukraine)

Fugue Of Death - Poem by Paul Celan

Black milk of daybreak we drink it at nightfall
we drink it at noon in the morning we drink it at night
we drink it and drink it
we are digging a grave in the sky it is ample to lie there
A man in the house he plays with the serpents he writes
he writes when the night falls to Germany your golden
hair Margarete
he writes it and walks from the house the stars glitter he
whistles his dogs up
he whistles his Jews out and orders a grave to be dug in
the earth
he commands us strike up for the dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you in the morning at noon we drink you at
nightfall
drink you and drink you
A man in the house he plays with the serpents he writes
he writes when the night falls to Germany your golden
hair Margarete
Your ashen hair Shulamith we are digging a grave in the
sky it is
ample to lie there

He shouts stab deeper in earth you there and you others
you sing and you play
he grabs at the iron in his belt and swings it and blue are
his eyes
stab deeper your spades you there and you others play on
for the dancing

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at nightfall
we drink you at noon in the mornings we drink you at
nightfall
drink you and drink you
a man in the house your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Shulamith he plays with the serpents

He shouts play sweeter death's music death comes as a
master from Germany
he shouts stroke darker the strings and as smoke you
shall climb to the sky
then you'll have a grave in the clouds it is ample to lie
there

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at noon death comes as a master from
Germany
we drink you at nightfall and morning we drink you and
drink you
a master from Germany death comes with eyes that are
blue
with a bullet of lead he will hit in the mark he will hit
you
a man in the house your golden hair Margarete
he hunts us down with his dogs in the sky he gives us a
grave
he plays with the serpents and dreams death comes as a
master from Germany

your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Shulamith.


Comments about Fugue Of Death by Paul Celan

  • Khairul Ahsan (12/21/2018 10:52:00 PM)

    'we are digging a grave in the sky it is ample to lie there' - a thought provoking line. (Report)Reply

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  • (12/21/2018 9:31:00 PM)

    A brilliantly conceived write. (Report)Reply

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  • Edward Kofi Louis (12/21/2018 12:59:00 PM)

    Black milk of daybreak! !

    Blackberry,

    Black water flows.

    Thanks for sharing this poem with us.
    (Report)Reply

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  • Savita Tyagi (12/21/2018 11:45:00 AM)

    Rhythmic fugue of this poem is surely black and haunting thrusting like a dagger straight into reader’s heart. (Report)Reply

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  • Drtony Brahmin (12/21/2018 9:10:00 AM)

    Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night. a good and great poem. tony (Report)Reply

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  • Mohammed Asim Nehal (12/21/2018 9:02:00 AM)

    The pain, suffering and agony of those who were under house arrest was nicely written. A painful truth with apt title.100++++ (Report)Reply

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  • Adrian Flett (12/21/2018 5:12:00 AM)

    Black mill is the theme that flows through the poem and does it relate or is it a symbol of the various forces and indoctrination that occurred in that time? ? Celan was Jewish and endured all the chaos of that time. This poem reflects so much of all that very well. (Report)Reply

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  • Prabir Gayen (12/21/2018 3:03:00 AM)

    Very good poem...... Beautifully executed (Report)Reply

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  • Fabrizio Frosini (8/1/2015 7:42:00 AM)

    you can see the comments in ''DEATH FUGUE'', too

    like this one:

    '' In Celan’s ''Todesfuge'', Celan presents his readers in his opening two lines with four different times of the day. A reader understands that this 'black milk' is forcefully constant yet darkly discomforting, and its repetition scores the image of black milk into nearly every stanza.

    Though they might come across as merely subtle differences, the translations of these pairs —''evening'' and ''midday''; ''sundown'' and ''noon''— structure the time and place around which the poem centers.
    Felstiner’s translations suggest general times. Evening and midday blend ranges of hours together, without specificity.
    Oppositely, Hamburger’s translations are more definite. His ''sundown'' and ''noon'' provide exact times in the day in which ''we'' drink the black milk, almost like clockwork. Rather than the hours that pass through the evening, Hamburger’s ''we'' drinks the black milk at precisely sundown; rather than the hours surrounding midday, Hamburger’s ''we'' drinks the black milk at precisely noon. The rigidity, the exactness, of Hamburger’s word choices hint at the structure present in the camp system —the wake up call, the evening roll call, and the slim rationings of food at specific times during the day— and therefore offer the reader a more uncomfortable, somewhat tangible sense of the activities of the camp and of the Jewish experiences there. ''
    [Goodrich, J., Rhyme or Reason? : Successfully Translating the Poetry of Paul Celan,2008] '
    (Report)Reply

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  • Fabrizio Frosini (8/1/2015 7:39:00 AM)

    to Jasbir Chatterjee [''Does this poem have anything to do with the Jews' massacre by Hitler? '']

    Yes, Death Fugue is about the atrocities and death in concentration and labor camps..
    About ''black milk''.. 'black' being generally associated with death and mourning, while the 'white' of the milk' speaks of purity and of life.. through this oxymoron, milk gets a threatening, fatal meaning..
    About ''a tomb in the air''... it refers to the crematoria...
    (Report)Reply

    57 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Ramesh T A (8/1/2015 2:24:00 AM)

    Death by a German means it must be Hitler of World War II! It comes for the sky means it is surely attack by German aeroplanes! The attack by German warfare has created this kind of mind set perhaps to write poem so by the poet! (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
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  • Jasbir Chatterjee (8/1/2015 1:44:00 AM)

    Does this poem have anything to do with the Jews' massacre by Hitler? This is what it sounds like if you go by the words, He plays with the serpents and dreams death comes as a master from Germany. (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Thabani Khumalo (6/16/2015 9:05:00 AM)

    I have a vision to write like this, only if god would bless me enough to.t (Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Fabrizio Frosini (5/20/2015 5:28:00 AM)

    - ''Death Fugue'' is best -

    ''Todesfuge'' is an 'expression born of the poet’s experience of the crisis of language, the imminence of silence, and the magic of the word' (Weimar 94)
    (Report)Reply

    29 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Fabrizio Frosini (5/19/2015 2:32:00 AM)

    ''Death Fugue'' is the best title (Report)Reply

    22 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
Read all 15 comments »




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Read poems about / on: hair, house, death, sky, dance, night, music, dog, hunting, dream, star



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003



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