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Introduction & Overview of But Perhaps God Needs the Longing by Nelly Sachs

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But Perhaps God Needs the Longing Summary & Study Guide Description

But Perhaps God Needs the Longing Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains For Further Reading on But Perhaps God Needs the Longing by Nelly Sachs.

When Nelly Sachs first began to write, she wrote of the longing for a lover and of the disappointment of lost love. After her experiences during the Holocaust, most of Sachs's poems dealt with the destruction of European Jewry. She used her poems to express the deep sense of loss and grief that she felt and as a form of catharsis for the many emotions that she had experienced during the war years. Although Sachs escaped the death camps, her escape did not leave her immune to the suffering of those Jews who were transported. Although she had been brought up in a non-religious, secular household, the experience of the Holocaust deepened Sachs's commitment to Judaism. Many of her poems, written after the war, reflect this deepened commitment to religion. This is certainly the case with "But Perhaps God Needs the Longing," (first printed in 1966 in Die Suchende) a poem in which the writer poses a reason for the inevitability of death and the grief that results from the loss of love. This poem appears in a chapter of The Seeker and Other Poems that is titled, "In the Habitations of Death," in which Sachs writes about the death camps. The dominant theme of "But Perhaps God Needs the Longing," is that of death. In this poem the poet expresses both the inevitability of death and the cycle of rebirth that are equal parts of life. One theme of "But Perhaps God Needs the Longing," suggests that the prayers of longing and grief that result from death create the light of stars in the night sky. These stars represent the continuing cycle of birth and death that are part of man's existence. The conclusion of the poem might be viewed as an affirmation that there is life after death, since the grief and longing that mankind feels perpetuates the memory of those who have been lost. The visual representation of this grief and the remembering of those lost can be seen in the birth of new stars.

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Poetry for Students
But Perhaps God Needs the Longing from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.