Fugue of Death

Paul Celan

Translated by Christopher Middleton
 
Black milk of daybreak we drink it at nightfall
we drink it at noon in the morning we drink it at night
we drink it and drink it
we are digging a grave in the sky it is ample to lie there
A man in the house he plays with the serpents he writes
he writes when the night falls to Germany your golden
hair Margarete
he writes it and walks from the house the stars glitter he
whistles his dogs up
he whistles his Jews out and orders a grave to be dug in
the earth
he commands us strike up for the dance
Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you in the morning at noon we drink you at
nightfall
drink you and drink you
A man in the house he plays with the serpents he writes
he writes when the night falls to Germany your golden
hair Margarete
Your ashen hair Shulamith we are digging a grave in the
sky it is
ample to lie there
He shouts stab deeper in earth you there and you others
you sing and you play
he grabs at the iron in his belt and swings it and blue are
his eyes
stab deeper your spades you there and you others play on
for the dancing
Black milk of daybreak we drink you at nightfall
we drink you at noon in the mornings we drink you at
nightfall
drink you and drink you
a man in the house your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Shulamith he plays with the serpents
He shouts play sweeter death's music death comes as a
master from Germany
he shouts stroke darker the strings and as smoke you
shall climb to the sky
then you'll have a grave in the clouds it is ample to lie
there
Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at noon death comes as a master from
Germany
we drink you at nightfall and morning we drink you and
drink you
a master from Germany death comes with eyes that are
blue
with a bullet of lead he will hit in the mark he will hit
you
a man in the house your golden hair Margarete
he hunts us down with his dogs in the sky he gives us a
grave
he plays with the serpents and dreams death comes as a
master from Germany
your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Shulamith.
 
By Paul Celan, translated by Christopher Middleton, and published by HarperCollins in The Poetry of Our Own World, edited by Jeffrey Pain. © 2000 by Christopher Middleton. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Poems by This Author

Death Fugue by Paul Celan
Black milk of morning we drink you at dusktime
O Little Root of a Dream by Paul Celan
O little root of a dream


Further Reading

Related Poems
Death Fugue
by Paul Celan
Poems About Funerals
In Memoriam, [To Sleep I give my powers away]
by Lord Alfred Tennyson
A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London
by Dylan Thomas
Age and Death
by Emma Lazarus
Because I could not stop for Death (712)
by Emily Dickinson
Bomb Crater Sky
by Lam Thi My Da
By ways remote and distant waters sped (101)
by Gaius Valerius Catullus
Driven across many nations (101)
by Gaius Valerius Catullus
For the Union Dead
by Robert Lowell
In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae
Night Funeral in Harlem
by Langston Hughes
O Captain! My Captain!
by Walt Whitman
Question
by May Swenson
Song ["When I am dead, my dearest"]
by Christina Rossetti
Suddenly
by Sharon Olds
The Earth Opens and Welcomes You
by Abdellatif Laâbi
The World as Seen Through a Glass of Ice Water
by Dobby Gibson
Untitled [This is what was bequeathed us]
by Gregory Orr
What Came to Me
by Jane Kenyon
Poems about Jewish Experience
Kaddish, Part I
by Allen Ginsberg
A Little History
by David Lehman
Afterlife
by Joan Larkin
An Old Cracked Tune
by Stanley Kunitz
Hey Allen Ginsberg Where Have You Gone and What Would You Think of My Drugs?
by Rachel Zucker
In a Country
by Larry Levis
In the Jewish Synagogue at Newport
by Emma Lazarus
In the Park
by Maxine Kumin
It had been long dark, though still an hour before supper-time.
by Charles Reznikoff
Jew
by Michael Blumenthal
Kissing Stieglitz Good-Bye
by Gerald Stern
Notes on the Spring Holidays, III, [Hanukkah]
by Charles Reznikoff
The Poem as Mask
by Muriel Rukeyser