Loveliest of trees, the cherry now, one from Paul Celan: Psalm, and also one from Ingeborg
Bachmann titled I Step Outside Myself. I found Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries by A.E. Housman well stocked in figures of speech. From the personification found in the second line, earth's foundations fled (Citation), all the way through and exemplified on line seven by the symbol created with When God abandoned (Citation). I need to stress that this use of figures of speech does not in any way take away from the tone of this piece, which I feel strengthens the value of comraderie and emblazens the spirit of man’s resolve. This tone is defiant, bold and yet also respectful and reverant towards those who fought and held back the invading forces. (Citation) To some this may seem an absolute affront to the creator but the dichotomy of man from god is clearly expressed and I feel this bold statement hides the subtle somber and reflective message that men have died for a wage and yet these men paid the absolute price expressed in lines three and four: Followed their mercenary calling/And took their wages and are dead. (Citation). These words evoke such a
feeling of respect and admiration towards these men and at the same time also brings to light the question why would god abandon them to such an ending. In Loveliest of trees, the cherry now Housman bounces his way along the woodlands in
Spring time admiring the cherry trees and vividly symbolizes youth in a cherry tree as in lines one through eight: Loveliest of trees, the cherry now/ Is hung.../...leaves me fifty more. (Citation)
Housman also personifies the cherry tree by describing it as wearing clothing fit for Easter: line four Wearing white for Eastertide.(Citation) His tone is light and observant, then becomes slightly anxious as he worries he will not live enough to fully enjoy the world, and this piece ends with a purpose for life and an overall optimism for what he will partake of in the future. He also gives an invitation for all to look for beauty in the most unusual and creative of ways such as in lines eleven and twelve About the woodlands I will go/To see the cherry hung with snow.
(Citation) These lasting words echo a call to seize life as it comes no matter the season and to savor it as our time is limited in which to do so. I feel these words ring through me and I feel an uneasiness that I too need to savor the time I have and find true value in being able to breathe. In Paul Celan’s Psalm, there is an obvious connection to the biblical psalms and that is by far the most striking aspect; it leads one to expect a reverent and praisefilled poem. However,
Celan deals blow after blow to this assumption when he symbolizes God as “No one” in the first three lines No one kneads us again out of earth and clay,/no one incants our dust./No one.
(Citation) After reading this piece several times, I found that it was written as if being spoken by a group and realized this group was dead. After throwing out Celan’s persona and using the
position of a mass of the dead it struck me that they were comparing the story of creation with their current condition: There is no life after death. Armed with the congregation of dead, I feel the constant references to the Bible disregard the holiness normally associated with it, raises up humanity as selfsufficient yet short lived and casts a deeper, darker question as to why is god