Hellmut (Peter) Huchel studied literature and philosophy in Berlin before changing his first name to Peter in 1930. Frequently writing poems and radio plays, Huchel quickly established himself as a major voice in German poetry before he was drafted for service in World War II, when he was taken prisoner by the Russian army. Following his release, he worked as the editor of the influential German literary magazine Sinn und Form (Sense and Form) and received support from figures such as Bertolt Brecht and Johannes R. Becher when Huchel published voices from the Western world rather than German Marxist work. As a result, in 1962, Huchel was removed from his editorial post. In the 1960s, he was not allowed to leave Germany, but in 1971, he moved to Rome before settling eventually in Staufen im Breisgau, Germany, where he died in 1981.
Huchel’s poetry has been characterized as post-Romantic nature poetry. Michael Hamburger writes that Huchel’s early verse contained an “earthiness and a wealth of observed, lived particulars” as well as “mythical and occult overtones.”