Nelly Sachs was born into a secular Jewish family in Berlin. She conceived the ambition to become a writer as a young woman, but her early publications attracted hardly any attention. After the rise to power of Hitler, she witnessed the terrible fate of her fellow Jews. Only the intervention of the Swedish writer Selma Lagerlof enabled her to leave for Stockholm and escape being sent to a concentration camp. In exile, as she tried to come to terms with the traumatic events of the recent past, she developed the unique poetic idiom for which she is famous. Individual experience hardly seems to exist at all in her poetry, as personal life blends into the mythic story of humanity, especially of her Jewish ancestors.
Peoples of the Earth
Peoples of the earth,
do not destroy the universe of words....
O that no one mean death when he says life--
and not blood when he speaks cradle.