Page 66 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

Basic HTML Version

J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
4 6
never to devastate. It is such a cry for healing that carols out
of her lyric “Words” :
Peoples of the earth,
do not destroy the universe of words,
let not the knife of hatred lacerate
the sound born together with the first breath.
Peoples of the earth,
O that no one mean death when he says life—
and not blood when he speaks cradle.
Peoples of the earth,
leave the words at their source,
for it is they that can nudge
the horizons into the true heaven
and that, with night gaping like a mask
behind their averted side,
help give birth to the stars—
Translated by Michael Roloff
The Laureate’s Published Works
Miss Sachs’ first collection of verse
In den Wohnungen des
Todes
(In the Habitations of Death) was published in Berlin in
1947. The first poem
O die Schornsteine
(Oh These Chimneys)
which speaks of the smoke coming from the chimneys of the
crematoria, sets the mood for the fifty poems in the volume.
In the second stanza the smoke is the symbolic path of liberation
on which would come the ashes of Jeremiah and Job “Who
thought of you and built brick upon brick / the path of the
survivors built of smoke.” Thirteen poems are grouped under
the main heading, ten under the caption
Gebete fur den Toten
Brautigam
(Prayers for the Dead Bridegroom), thirteen in a
cycle of
Grabschriften in die Luft Geschrieben
(Epitaphs Writ■
ten in Air), and fourteen in a sequence entitled
Chore nach der
Mitternacht
(Choruses After Midnight). The motif in the col-
lection is man the hunter stalking and destroying his helpless
prey.
Her second volume
Sternverdunkelung
(Eclipse of the Stars)
appeared in Amsterdam in 1949. The fifty-five poems are rich
in biblical allusions, and the theme is Israel’s imperishability.
She bewails “the body of the people of the prophets dissolved in
the smoke of the crematoria chimneys,” but although “the pallor
of death hovers over the nation / the blood will flow / in the
cheeks of the daughters of Israel / once more.” These delicately
fashioned lyrics have been described by Helmut von Cube, the
German critic, as “flowers planted on the mass graves of the