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Deathfugue

Deathfugue

by Paul Celan

Analysis: Calling Card

The Absence of God

Wow, that's kind of a chilling calling card to have. But there is no getting around the question of nothingness and the abandonment of men by God in Celan's poems. Celan was Jewish, but his experiences during the Holocaust seemed to have shaken his beliefs to the foundation. In "Deathfugue," he describes how the prisoners drink "black milk." According to the Book of Exodus in Hebrew scriptures, the Jews were supposed to be delivered by God to "a land flowing with milk and honey," the very opposite of where they find themselves in Celan's work. In another poem, called "Psalm," he is even more direct:

No one kneads us again out of earth and clay
no-One summons our dust.
No one.
Blessed art thou, No One.
(Read the full poem here.)

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