Rose Ausländer


Rose Ausländer (1901 in Chernivtsi, Austro-Hungarian Empire; 1988 in Germany) is perhaps one of the most tender and soulful women poets that appeared on the literary map of the German-speaking countries in the wake of Second World War. Coming of a Jew ancestry, Ausländer has to, as was the case with other Jew writers and intellectuals in Europe, leave her home only to wander around in foreign lands. Thus, the experience of exile, rootles-ness, wandering and (non-)belonging-ness shines as leitmotiv in her poetry as does the issue of mother tongue in exile. In fact, she took her mother tongue as a substitute for her mother/father land, or, at least, as a solace to alleviate the painful existence of a rootless being.


Mother Tongue


I have changed myself
into myself
from one moment to another

splintered to pieces
on the way of words

mother tongue
assembles me




Ausländer, the nightingale of Bukovina, or the butterfly of Bukovina as she coins this phrase in one of her penetrating poems, has a soft voice with an eternal ring of pathos and melancholy about it. Later, while staying in USA, she tried her hand also at English in vain. Ultimately, she returned to her natural habitat, to the linguistic ambience of her poems, first to Austria and afterwards to Germany.


Bucovina I

Green mother
butterflies in hair

says the sun
red milk of melone
white milk of mais
I made them sweet

Violet pine cones
airwings of birds and foliage

The Carpathian ridge
invites you
to carry you

Four languages
songs in four languages

who understand each other



(The first writer in the series of our introduction to the 'Austrian Writers in Exile'. The idea is to go back into the history of  Exile literature and to look at the fate and state that is not alien to the migrant writer today)




Sarita Jenamani