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Deathfugue

Deathfugue

by Paul Celan

Art and Culture Quotes

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Quote #4

your ashen hair Shulamith we shovel a grave in the air there you won't lie too cramped (lines 16)

Shulamith is the only reference to the unique culture of Judaism. She is a princess in the Hebrew text "The Song of Songs," which itself has high literary value. In this poem, you could say that she represents the independence of the Jewish identity from German culture, from which these Jews have been excluded.

Quote #5

He shouts play death more sweetly Death is a master from Deutschland (line 25)

Again the guard takes his love of music way too far. He acts like a sadistic composer, trying to make the idea of death "sweet" to the Jews. Also, the word "master" is loaded with connotations about German art and culture. The famous German Romantic (and anti-Semitic) composer Richard Wagner wrote an opera titled "The Mastersingers of Nuremberg." See our "Detailed Summary" for more info.

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