FRIDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: PAUL CELAN


SPEECH-GRILLE
by PAUL CELAN

Eye-orb between the bars.

Ciliary lid
rows upwards,
releases a gaze.

Iris, swimmer, dreamless and dim:
the sky, heart-gray, must be near.

Skew, in the iron socket,
the smoldering splinter.
By the sense of light
you guess the soul.

(Were I like you. Were you like me.
Did we not stand
under one tradewind?
We are strangers.)

The tiles. Upon them,
close together, the two
heart-gray pools:
two
mouthfuls of silence.


Translated from the german by Joachim Neugroschel.

“Only one thing remained reachable, close and secure amid all losses: language. Yes, language. In spite of everything, it remained secure against loss.”-Paul Celan

Editor’s Note: This post is dedicated as a Happy Birthday wish to Matt Gonzalez, who introduced me to the importance of Celan.

Want to read more by and about Paul Celan?
As It Ought To Be
Amazon
Poets.org

FRIDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: Paul Celan

CRYSTAL

by Paul Celan


not on my lips look for your mouth,
not in front of the gate for the stranger,
not in the eye for the tear.


seven nights higher red makes for red,
seven hearts deeper the hand knocks on the gate,
seven roses later plashes the fountain.


Paul Celan, born in Romania to a Jewish family in 1920, grew to become a poet and a gifted translator of poetry. Although a polyglot, he wrote his poems in German, specifically in the personal German of his mother’s house. His relationship to the language inevitably changed after he lost his family in the Holocaust. He said, “There is nothing on earth that can prevent a poet from writing, not even the fact that he’s Jewish and German is the language of his poems.” His poems demonstrate the malleability and inventiveness of language with a profound density and courage.

Want to read more by and about Paul Celan?
Famous Poets and Poems
The Poetry Foundation