Cultural Criticism And Society By Pablo Neruda

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“Poetry is an act of peace. Peace goes into the making of a poet as flour goes into the making of bread.” When poet Pablo Neruda said this, he probably meant that poetry helps people express their desire for peace, even when written in protest (he himself combined politics and poetry to advocate for social change). Many holocaust survivors wrote poetry about their horrific experiences, sometimes protesting what happened to them or begging for peace. Either way, the poetry’s positive impact was not recognized by Theodor Adorno. In his 1949 essay “Cultural Criticism and Society,” he claimed that “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.” Adorno later expanded, saying he meant “it is the question whether one can live after Auschwitz.” I think…show more content…
Holocaust poetry preserves the past and will hold Nazi perpetrators accountable for their actions for eternity. For example, in Picture Postcards, Miklos Radnoti depicts scenes of terror during the holocaust: the sound of artillery, villages burning, and bloody, overworked oxen and men. Most chilling though is his recollection of falling next to a man who was shot in the back of the head. Through the line “Patience flowers into death now,” Radnoti conveys the suffering and despair that victims felt. It gives a sense of the hope victims were slowly and cruelly robbed of. By illuminating the bleak reality of life as a victim of the holocaust, poems like this one serve as a reminder to readers not to forget what happened. In this case, the “barbaric” language actually helps intensify the poetry’s purpose - striking language can shock the audience to make the poetry more memorable. In Deathfugue, Paul Celan writes of the overwhelming amount of death that surrounds him. “...he whistles his Jews into rows has them shovel a grave in the ground / he commands us to play up for the dance.” By depicting a scene portraying people forced to dig their own graves and then sing and dance after, it offers a revolting look at the way people were victimized - one which readers will not soon
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