The Snow of Words

  • Maria João Cantinho Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa
Keywords: Poetry; Celan; Story; Language; To remember.


This article wants to read Paul Pessakh Antschel's life - Celan's real name. Paul Antschel changes his name from Antschel to the anagram Celan, which he would retain throughout his life. The readings of Marx and Nietszche, along with German poetry, especially Hölderlin and Rilke, but also Goethe and Schiller, Heine, Trakl, Kafka, Hofmannsthal, among others, developed in the poet a taste for politics and simultaneously for literature. Music and death are intertwined in Celan's poetry, evoking the lyrical atmosphere of Schubert - Death and the Maiden - or Mahler, Brahms and the German Requiem, in an attempt to harmonize the most painful and unsustainable experience. Celebration, not of death, but of those who perished in the death camps, under the most inhuman conditions imaginable, and the tearing comes, in a sublime way, in the poem "Death's Escape." In the poem "Death is a flower," Celan allegorizes death through the image of a flower, a flower that "opens only once." It is a world of terrible beauty, where the dead "sprout and flourish." They die to life, flourishing to poetic language, the only one capable of rescuing the experience of horror by way of remembrance. Recalling the lived experience must be understood as the gesture that simultaneously accomplishes the destruction of the organic links and, on the contrary, contains in itself a redemptive claim, that is the true purpose of Celan's poetry.


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Author Biography

Maria João Cantinho, Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Maria João Cantinho é doutora em filosofia, jornalista e escritora, poeta. É membro integrado do Centro de Filosofia da Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa (desde 2012) e Membro Associado do Collège d’Études Juives et de Philosophie Contemporaine,  Membro da Direcção do Pen Clube Português, da APE (Associação Portuguesa de Escritores) e da APCL (Associação Portuguesa de Críticos Literários). Publicou várias obras de Ficção, Poesia e Ensaio. É autora de : A Garça, editora Diferença, Leiria, 2001 ; Abrirás a Noite com um Sulco,editora Hugin, Lisboa, 2002 ; O Anjo Melancólico, editora Angelus Novus, Coimbra, 2003 ; Sílabas de Água, editora Ver-o-Verso, Porto, 2005.


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How to Cite
CANTINHO, M. J. The Snow of Words. albuquerque: journal of history, v. 11, n. 21, p. 9-25, 11 Jan. 2020.