Celan, Paul (Pseudonym of Paul Antschel) 1920–1970
Born in Rumania of Hasidic Jewish heritage, Celan is generally regarded as the finest lyric poet to write in German since Rilke. His parents were victims of the Nazi extermination, and Celan himself was interned in a forced labor camp from 1942 to 1943. The anguish of the Holocaust can be felt in his work, often manifested in a dark, melancholy imagery; this is especially evident in his most famous poem, "Death Fugue." Celan's is surreal, lyrical poetry, often elusive and dreamlike. His images are unusual, his diction pure. Also a translator of French and Russian, Celan adapted the works of Mandelstam, Rimbaud, Valéry, and Char. He committed suicide at the age of forty-nine.