by Paul Celan
Deathfugue War Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (line)
He shouts play death more sweetly Death is a master from Deutschland (line 25)
Celan is extremely critical towards Germany and its role in the war. He even goes so far as to locate the abstract idea of "Death" in Germany. Death is to be found both in the cruelties of men like the camp guard, and also in the ideology of Nazism, with its emphasis on racial "mastery."
his Death is ein Meister aus Deutschland his eye it is blue
he shoots you with shot made of lead shoots you level and true
a man lives in the house your goldenes Haar Margarete
he looses his hounds on us grants us a grave in the air (lines 31-34)
In line 31, "Death" is directly equated with the guard and his blue eyes. This is the moment at which the tension in the poem breaks out into violence, and the guard starts executing the prisoners. The speaker ironically praises his shot as "level and true," as if all that mattered was efficiency. You really get the sense that the guard holds all the cards and has all the power, and the prisoners could not have fought back even if they had wanted to do so.