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Nelly Sachs

In den Wohnungen des Todes


NOTES


In den Wohnungen des Todes / In the Habitations of Death was first published in 1947, by the East German publishing house Aufbau-Verlag, in Berlin. (One cycle , ‘Epitaphs Written In the Air’ has been omitted: it consists of a series of short poems commemorating particular victims of the Holocaust, but these all depend on rhyme, to a degree that renders them virtually untranslatable.)


YOUR FLESH FLOATING IN SMOKE THROUGH THE AIR


The poems of this cycle were all written in 1945 / 1946.


PRAYERS FOR THE DEAD BRIDEGROOM


These are earlier written poems, dating from 1943 / 1944. Four of them, dependent on rhyme, have been omitted. The ‘dead bridegroom’ is the man Sachs had fallen unhappily and impossibly in love with when she was seventeen. She appears briefly to have encountered him again in the late 1930s. As an opponent of the Nazi regime he had been interned, and had already, to her knowledge, died, in a concentration camp, before she left for Sweden. Beyond that, she kept his actual identity a complete secret. There is indeed a certain poetic logic to this: preserving his role as representative of all the victims.


CHORUSES AFTER MIDNIGHT


The first four of these were written in May / June 1946; the others, later in the summer of the same year. Again, one has been omitted, due to its dependence on rhyme.