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Death Fugue Analysis



Author: poem of Paul Celan Type: poem Views: 35

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Black milk of daybreak we drink it at sundown

we drink it at noon in the morning we drink it at night

we drink it and drink it

we dig a grave in the breezes there one lies unconfined

A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents

     he writes

he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden

     hair Margarete

he writes it ans steps out of doors and the stars are

     flashing he whistles his pack out

he whistles his Jews out in earth has them dig for a

     grave

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

     sundown

we drink and we drink you

A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents

     he writes

he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden hair

     Margarete

your ashen hair Sulamith we dig a grave in the breezes

     there one lies unconfined



He calls out jab deeper into the earth you lot you

     others sing now and play

he grabs at teh iron in his belt he waves it his

     eyes are blue

jab deper you lot with your spades you others play

     on for the dance



Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night

we drink you at at noon in the morning we drink you

     at sundown

we drink and we drink you

a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete

your ashen hair Sulamith he plays with the serpents

He calls out more sweetly play death death is a master

     from Germany

he calls out more darkly now stroke your strings then

     as smoke you will rise into air

then a grave you will have in the clouds there one

     lies unconfined



Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night

we drink you at noon death is a master from Germany

we drink you at sundown and in the morning we drink

     and we drink you

death is a master from Germany his eyes are blue

he strikes you with leaden bullets his aim is true

a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete

he sets his pack on to us he grants us a grave in

     the air

He plays with the serpents and daydreams death is

     a master from Germany



your golden hair Margarete

your ashen hair Shulamith





Translated by Michael Hamburger



Anonymous submission.






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

I\'ve just reed all of yours analysis. And I would like to say. Like in the title - this is Fugue. And don\'t you know what fugue is? Is the one of the most important type of baroque music. Bach (Johann Sebastian) wrote many of them - in masterpiecial type (Toccata and Fugue d minor, never heard of that?) Think about this poem as a music. That\'s the way of it structure. Thats polyphony. (One theme are we, the counterpoint is Death).
And Second this is a story about not only Jews in concentration camps, it also is about the end of the world, their world. World before WWII was very different. Was different for Celan (he was romanian jew). This poem is also called guernica (picasso).
And i suggest reading this poem in original language - which is.... german.

| Posted on 2012-06-27 | by a guest


.: :.

We discussed this poem a bit in my European Culture class. Celan greatly enjoyed metaphors and imagery - black milk: milk is considered something innocent, pure, something to feed a child and a symbol of life and hope while black symbolizes death, the milk becoming corrupted. So innocence being corrupted by death or death leaving nothing else behind, no life, no hope. Other imagery is digging a grave in the breezes - in the Holocaust, those that died were cremated, the ashes rising into the air creating great, dark clouds. He also demonstrates the inhumanity of the camp as both the dogs and the Jews are \"whistled out\" and while some are made to work, others are made to play music and dance. The man is playing with snakes - snakes being a biblical image with the snake tempting Adam and Eve and is an embodiment of corruption, evil, greed and temptation - fitting for a man in charge of a concentration camp. Margareta is his sweetheart, the new embodiment of the perfect women while Sulamith represents the old perfect women, the one being cast to the side and already partly dead - her hair ashen like the cloud-graves/halfway to black like the milk. He also writes of a paradox, the commander writing a love letter while at the same time displaying overwhelming inhumanity. Overall the poem is supposed to create a sense of monotony and routine (with the repetitive language and parts of phrases) only for the chaos and irrationality to be seen through the events described. Celan is trying to use this poem to explain to sheer unimaginable events that took place in the Holocaust.

| Posted on 2012-04-05 | by a guest


.: :.

First of all, the poem tells a story - a number of stories, actually, which become unified as the poem goes on (hence the title - \"Death Fugue\").
Following the story, it\'s not hard to understand the poem, without jumping to strange, hasty conclusions, such as \"the narrator\" talking about his wife and daughter, or the man in the house being Hitler himself.
The story is told from the point of view of a man in a concentration camp - he and the other people in the camp work constantly, only seldom stopping for short breaks.
Nearby, there\'s a house - clearly, the house of the man responsible for the camp, who lives there as part of his job.
He is described as some sort of a mythological beast - playing with serpents, commanding the prisoners to play and dance for him.
Yet we are told that when dusk falls, the man writes to Germany - his home - to his beloved, Margarete. We know that because the only line from his letter that we are told of is \"Your golden hair Margarete\", which sounds like a typical line from a love letter.
The poem moves between generalization, symbolism and, shall I say, realism.
Compared to the golden haired Margarete, the supposedly lovely, Arian beloved of the man in the house, there is Shulamith - a symbol of Jewish women (her name, and her hair - both black and burned, ashen).
As the poem goes on, the events described in it are mixed up, creating new meanings (\"death is a master from Germany\" - now that\'s Hitler - and so on).
It ends with Shulamith as opposed to Margarete. The iconic Jewish woman, representing the Jewish suffering during the holocaust, as opposed to Margarete - not much of an icon, except maybe for Arian women, but the only reminder in the poem of the human (perverted, odd, horrifying, but human nontheless) qualities of The Man in the House.

| Posted on 2011-01-03 | by a guest


.: :.

This poem illustrates the fate and dismay felt during the genocidal concentration camps. Solitution of people during this era was due to outside (cultural) circumstances. Hitler isolated and dominated Germany which lead to a death for their society. Nazi's were blinded by their culture...

| Posted on 2010-05-05 | by a guest


.: :.

A very strong approach to the genocidal reality
of concentartion camps - "death is a master from Germany" "his eyes are blue" the here and now was Germany and Hitler but Margarete's name and Shukamith
are textual , The Man with Blue Eyes ( Hitler ) is not textual... Celan trancends the horrors of the Holocaust and the man can be any other man, the country then, was Germany "the master" could come from any other country where man kils man, blinded by hate
ignorance, thirst for power, and fanatic tatoos.
Humans, victims and killers , together, drink the black milk, oblivious to the fact that life is running out between their fingers.
Arie Pencovici - Haifa, Israel

| Posted on 2009-08-03 | by a guest


.: :.

A very strong approach to the genocidal reality
of concentartion camps - "death is a master from Germany" "his eyes are blue" the here and now was Germany and Hitler but Margarete's name and Shukamith
are textual , The Man with Blue Eyes ( Hitler ) is not textual... Celan trancends the horrors of the Holocaust and the man can be any other man, the country then, was Germany "the master" could come from any other country where man kils man, blinded by hate
ignorance, thirst for power, and fanatic tatoos.
Humans, victims and killers , together, drink the black milk, oblivious to the fact that life is running out between their fingers.
Arie Pencovici - Haifa, Israel

| Posted on 2009-08-03 | by a guest


.: :.

A very strong approach to the genocidal reality
of concentartion camps - "death is a master from Germany" "his eyes are blue" the here and now was Germany and Hitler but Margarete's name and Shukamith
are textual , The Man with Blue Eyes ( Hitler ) is not textual... Celan trancends the horrors of the Holocaust and the man can be any other man, the country then, was Germany "the master" could come from any other country where man kils man, blinded by hate
ignorance, thirst for power, and fanatic tatoos.
Humans, victims and killers , together, drink the black milk, oblivious to the fact that life is running out between their fingers.
Arie Pencovici - Haifa, Israel

| Posted on 2009-08-03 | by a guest


.: :.

its not about his wife and daughter, its about a german jewish woman- margarete- german name shulamith - jewish name , margarete golden hair- alive, shulamith ashen- dead/ashes

| Posted on 2009-05-13 | by a guest


.: A worthy site to see :.

There is quite a good analysis here. One may question any analysis of poetry, and should, but there is a certain advantage in at least knowing what the words mean according to the times and culture of the x

| Posted on 2008-04-12 | by a guest


.: Analysis :.

This mid-twentieth century poem explores a Jewish man's perspective on the WWII hollocaust and his dismay at the fate of his wife and daughter (Margarete and Shulamith). He discusses Hitler (man with blue eyes) who plays with serpents (his military forces perpetrating evil) and the inevitability of death for those who wait in the concentration camp. Each day the Jews get one step closer to death and to the freedom that it bestows. Each meal (black milk) too brings them one step closer to this end.

| Posted on 2007-10-18 | by a guest




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