link from: we drink you at night

In the first stanza, Celan writes of the black milk, we drink it... Now he is addressing the black milk directly. Usually the address to a 'you' is a way of creating intimacy within a poem, or a way of creating a possibility of dialogue. Sometimes, a speaker will address him/herself as 'you' and carry on an internal dialogue within the poem. The address to 'you' often also pulls the reader into dialogue with the poet: the reader/hearer is implicated as the 'you.'

Think of some of the meanings the class suggested for 'black milk'. Can the 'black milk' hear? Can the 'black milk' respond? Does the 'black milk' figure so greatly within the experience of the poem that it becomes tangible and even animate, another enemy one can apprehend with all one's senses?

Look back at Carolyn Forche's introduction to Poetry of Witness and re-read her comments on paradox (p. 40) What happens within the poem as a result of the speaker's addressing an inanimate object or abstract concept? How do you as a reader react to the shift?

Back to Death Fugue