Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan
Paul Celan, John Felstiner
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The most wide-ranging volume of the work of Europe's leading postwar poet, including previously unpublished writings.
Paul Celan was born in 1920 in the East European province of Bukovina. Soon after his parents, German-speaking Jews, had perished at the hands of the Nazis, Celan wrote "Todesfuge" ("Deathfugue"), the most compelling poem to emerge from the Holocaust. Self-exiled in Paris, for twenty-five years Celan continued writing in his German mother tongue, although it had "passed through the thousand darknesses of deathbringing speech." His writing purges and remakes that language, often achieving a hope-struck radiance never before seen in modern poetry. But in 1970, his psychic wounds unhealed, Celan drowned himself in the Seine. This landmark volume includes youthful lyrics, unpublished poems, and prose. All poems appear in the original and in translation on facing pages. John Felstiner's translations stem from a twenty-year immersion in Celan's life and work. John Bayley wrote in the New York Review of Books, "Felstiner translates ... brilliantly."
bone-Hebrew ground into sperm ran through the hourglass through which we swam, two dreams now, chiming against time, in the squares. 87 Once Once I heard him, he was washing the world, unseen, nightlong, real, One and Infinite, annihilated, ied. Light was. Salvation, 88 from Fadensonnen (1968) You Were My Death You were my death: you I could hold when all fell away from me. 90 To My Right To my right - who? The deathwoman. And you, to my left, you? The travelling-sickles at the
were first published in English by MacGibbon & Kee, copyright © MacGibbon & Kee Ltd, 1962. The translation Mature de Bretagne is copyright © Christopher Middleton, 1967. All other translations and the Introduction are copyright © Michael Hamburger, 1972. Made and printed in Great Britain by C. Nicholls & Company Ltd Set in Monotype Bembo This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the
daybreak we drink you at night we drink in the mornings at noon we drink you at nightfall drink you and drink you A man in the house he plays with the serpents he writes he writes when the night falls to Germany your golden hair Margarete Your ashen hair Shulamith we are digging a grave in the sky it is ample to lie there He shouts stab deeper in earth you there and you others you sing and you play he grabs at the iron in his belt and swings it and blue are his eyes stab deeper your spades you
Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night we drink you at noon death comes as a master from Germany we drink you at nightfall and morning we drink you and drink you a master from Germany death comes with eyes that are blue with a bullet of lead he will hit in the mark he will hit you a man in the house your golden hair Margarete he hunts us down with his dogs in the sky he gives us a grave he plays with the serpents and dreams death comes as a master from Germany your golden hair Margarete
what is constant you, gunboat, are called 'Baobab'. I saluted the tricolore speaking a Russian word things lost were things not lost, the heart was a place made fast. 76 In the Daytime Hare's pelt sky. Even now a clear wing writes. I too, remember, dustcoloured one, arrived as a crane. 77 Crowned Out . . . Crowned out, spewed out into night. Under what stars! So much grey-beaten heart-hammer silver. And Berenice's head of hair, here too. - I plaited, I unplaited, I plait, unplait. I plait.