A Celan Poem

Gisèle Celan-Lestrange, from "Schwarzmaut" series of engravings

For the pleasure of this cold, clear Monday morning, the poem “Mit allen Gedanken” by Paul Celan from his volume Die Niemandsrose. It has been my pleasure to spend some time with this work just now, englishing it. PC himself referred to it (after someone’s misreading) as a love poem for Gisèle, & therefore the etching by Gisèle-Lestrange above, though that dates from a later series. (Still unable to insert breaks between stanzas in poems when formatting for WordPress blog, I had to insert a “-” to indicate a stanza break. If anyone has figured out how to format poetry with spaces and insets, please let me know!)

With all thoughts I went
out of the world: there you were,
you, my quiet my open one, you —
who took us in.

says that all died for us
when our eyes broke?
All awoke, all started up.

A sun, large, swam toward us, brightly
soul and soul stood against it, clear,
forcefully they confronted it in
silence with their orbit:

your lap opened up, gently
a breath rose into the ether,
and what shaped itself into a cloud, was it not,
was it not a figure we created,
was it not
as good as a name?
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1 Response

  1. Pierre:

    A fantastic translation. Your Celan work has always meant so much to me. I first discovered it 12 years ago at the UTEP library in El Paso. The journey has never stopped since then. Bravo. I’m also still dropping into POASIS and loving it. I still remember our hour-long talk in New Orleans nine years ago…Thanks…

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