Nelly Sachs Poetry Analysis
It is difficult to speak of development in Nelly Sachs’s poetic works, inasmuch as she was well beyond fifty years old when she produced her first significant poems. It is true that she had published lyric poetry before the 1940’s, but this early work has little in common with that of her mature years. Most of the poems from the 1920’s and 1930’s are thematically quite distinct from the later work, devoted to musicians such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Jean-Philippe Rameau, and Luigi Boccherini or dealing poetically with certain animals, such as deer, lambs, and nightingales. The Nelly Sachs archives in Dortmund and in Stockholm have copies of a substantial number of these early efforts.
In den Wohnungen des Todes
In contrast, the work of Sachs’s last twenty-five years concerns itself largely with existential problems, particularly with topics related to the Holocaust and rooted in personal experiences of flight, exile, and the death of friends. Her first collection of poems, In den Wohnungen des Todes (in the habitations of death), refers in its title to the Nazi death camps and is dedicated to those who perished there. It is a mistake, however, to perceive her work solely in the context of these historical events. Her topic is on a larger scale—the cycle of life itself: birth, death, rebirth—and Sachs develops various metaphors and ciphers to express the agony and the hope of this cycle....
(The entire section is 1943 words.)
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