Anselm Kiefer and Paul Celan’s Death Fugue

Posted: February 13, 2015 in Home
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I was talking recently about the impact of this poem and these monumental pieces by Anselm Kiefer when I saw them at The Royal Academy

margarethe

 

shulamith

 

Paul Celan: Death Fugue (From German)

Death Fugue
By Paul Celan
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Black milk of daybreak we drink it come evening
we drink it come midday come morning we drink it come night
we drink it and drink it
we spade out a grave in the air there it won’t feel so tight
A man lives at home who plays with the vipers he writes
he writes in the German-born nightfall
the gold of your hair Margarete
he writes it and steps out of doors and the stars are aglitter he whistles his hounds out
he whistles his Jews off has them spade out a grave in the ground
he orders us play up for the dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink you come night
we drink you come midday come morning we drink you come evening
we drink you and drink you
A man lives at home who plays with the vipers he writes
he writes in the German-born nightfall the gold of your hair Margarete
the ash of your hair Shulamith we spade out a grave in the air there it won’t feel so tight

He yells you there dig deeper and you there sing and play
He grabs the nightstick at his belt and swings it his eyes are so blue
You there dig deeper and you there play loud for the dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink you come night
We drink you come midday come morning we drink you come evening
We drink you and drink you
a man lives at home the gold of your hair Margarete
the ash of your hair Shulamith he plays with the vipers
he yells play sweeter for death Death is a German-born master
yells scrape the strings darker you’ll rise through the air like smoke
and have a grave in the clouds there it won’t feel so tight

Black milk of daybreak we drink you come night
we drink you come midday Death is a German-born master
We drink you come evening come morning we drink you and drink you
Death is a German-born master his eye is so blue
He shoots with lead bullets he shoots you his aim is so true
a man lives at home the gold of your hair Margarete
he lets his hounds loose on us grants us a grave in the air
he plays with his vipers and dreams a dream Death is a German-born master

The gold of your hair Margarete
The ash of your hair Shulamith

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