November 19, 2015

And We Who Move Away: Nelly Sachs

Nelly Sachs

Nelly Sachs won a Nobel Prize in 1966.  She was born in Germany, a Jew. With the help of a Swedish friend, she escaped Nazi Germany a week just before she was due to enter a concentration camp. As a refugee, she moved to Sweden. Her writing is about the Holocaust. She was a friend of Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann. 

"Writing is my mute outcry; I only wrote because I had to free myself."  --Nelly Sachs

And we who move away

And we who move away
beyond all leaves of the windrose
heavy inheritance into the distance.

Myself here,
where earth is losing its lineaments
the Pole,
death's white dead nettle
falls in the stillness of white leaves

the elk,
peering through blue curtains
between his antlers bears
a sun-egg hatched pale─

Here, where ocean time
camouflages itself with iceberg masks
under the last star's
frozen stigma

here at this place
I expose the coral,
the one that bleeds
with your message.

An excerpt of Bewitched is Half of Everything

Solace lives far
behind the homesickness scar.
where a different green speaks with tongues
and the seas abandon themselves timelessly.

(─Translated from the German by Michael Roloff from Und neimand weiss weiter, 1957)

see more english translations at

Nelly Sachs and the Hubris of Pain:

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