Poet, translator, essayist, and lecturer, influenced by French Surrealism and Symbolism. Celan was born in Romania, he lived in France, and wrote in German. His parents were killed in the Holocaust; the author himself escaped death by working in a Nazi labor camp. “Death is a Master from Germany”, Celan’s most quoted words, translated into English in different ways, are from the poem ‘Todesfuge’ (Death Fugue).
“A poem, as a manifestation of language and thus essentially dialogue, can be a message in a bottle, sent out in the – not always greatly hopeful – belief that somewhere and sometime it could was up on land, on heartland perhaps. Poems in this sense, too, are under way: they are making toward something.”
I HEAR THE AXE HAS FLOWERED,
I hear the place can’t be named,
I hear the bread that looks on him
heals the hanged man,
the bread his wife baked him,
I hear they call life
the only refuge.
Translated by by Ian Fairley