Poetry After Auschwitz

A translation of Paul Celan's "Death Fugue." Read it aloud.

Paul Celan, "Death Fugue"

Black milk of daybreak we drink in the evening

midday and morning

we drink and we drink

dig a grave in the air there's room for us all

The man in the house he plays with the snakes and he writes

A letter to Germany at dusk

your golden hair Margarete

he writes this and walks out to meet shining stars  

he whistles his dogs to him

he whistles his Jews to work: a grave in the earth

and music for dancing

Black milk of daybreak we drink in the night

morning and midday and evening

we drink and we drink

The man in the house he plays with the snakes and he writes

A letter to Germany at dusk

your golden hair Margarete

dig a grave in the air, there's room for us all

You there dig deeper you there play louder

He takes the iron from his belt he swings it his eyes are blue

You there dig and you there dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink in the night

midday and morning and evening

The man in the house your golden hair Margarete

your ashen hair Sulamith he plays with the snakes

Sing death sweetly Death is a master from Germany

Fiddle away darkly And rise as smoke in the air

To a grave in the clouds there's room for us all

Black milk of daybreak we drink in the night

and midday death is a master from Germany

evening and morning we drink and we trink

Death is a master from Germany his eyes are blue

he meets you with lead his aim ever true

The man in the house your golden hair Margarete

his dogs are upon us he gives us a grave in the air

he plays with the snakes and he dreams death is a master from Germany

your golden hair Margarete

your ashen hair Sulamith

Translation (c) Timothy Snyder

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