Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Paul Celan, Poet of Suffering & Sadness

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Paul Celan [born as Paul Antschel in 1920 in Czernovitz, Romania–died in 1970 in Paris, France] was the son of German-speaking Jews, spoke several languages, including Romanian, Russian, and French.  The death of his parents (at an internment camp in Transnistria, then part of Romania) and The Holocaust (Celan was taken to a forced-labour camp during the war) are evident in Celan’s poems, as is the dark, brooding mood of someone who has suffered the kind of losses that he cannot ever recover or even reconcile as acceptable. Such might describe the antithesis of life, a failure of the poet, but how can we judge? Is it not the sensitive souls, who, even if they survive tragedy, carry their sufferings internally and cannot mask it well? (“Death is a master from Deutschland.”) Perhaps, he was courageous for 25 years, and his courage ran out. Celan committed suicide by jumping from the Pont Mirabeau, thus drowning himself in the Seine River in Paris on April 20, 1970. He was 49, leaving behind a wife (Gisèle de Lestrange, a French-Catholic woman from a noble family) and son (Eric, born in 1955). For more, go [here] and [here] and [here].

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