Paul Celan: Speak, You Too

As chance, whatever that is, would have it, after being silenced by yesterday afternoon’s zoom-bombing just as I was about to speak on translating Paul Celan for Princeton, my publisher, FSG, as part of their 75th birthday celebration, just now published a little video (recorded 6 weeks ago by Nicole Peyrafitte) of me reading my translation of Celan’s poem “Speak You Too,”  something — speak, neither you nor I — could do last night. 

Speak, You Too

Speak, you too,
speak last,
have your say.

Speak —
But do not split the No from the Yes.
Give your saying also meaning:
give it its shadow.

Give it enough shadow,
give it as much
as you know to be parceled out between your
midnight and midday and midnight.

Look around:
see how it all comes alive—
At death! Alive!
Speaks true, who speaks shadows.

But now the place you stand on shrinks:
Where to now, shadow-stripped one, where to?
Climb. Grope your way up.
You’ll grow thinner, more unrecognizable, finer!
Finer: a thread
along which it wants to alight, the star:
so as to swim further down, down
where it sees itself gleam: in the swell
of wandering words.


Sprich auch du,
sprich als letzter,
sag deinen Spruch. 

Sprich –
Doch scheide das Nein nicht vom Ja.
Gib deinem Spruch auch den Sinn:
gib ihm den Schatten. 

Gib ihm Schatten genug,
gib ihm so viel,
als du um dich verteilt weißt zwischen
Mittnacht und Mittag und Mittnacht. 

Blicke umher:
sieh, wie’s lebendig wird rings –
Beim Tode! Lebendig!
Wahr spricht, wer Schatten spricht.

Nun aber schrumpft der Ort, wo du stehst:
Wohin jetzt, Schattenentblößter, wohin?
Steige. Taste empor.
Dünner wirst du, unkenntlicher, feiner!
Feiner: ein Faden,
an dem er herab will, der Stern:
um unten zu schwimmen, unten,
wo er sich schimmern sieht: in der Dünung
wandernder Worte. 



Paul Celan : “Speak you too” from Tawil Productions on Vimeo.
Paul Celan: “Speak you Too”
Translated & read by Pierre Joris
Video Capture & Art : Nicole Peyrafitte
Ta’wil 2021
Published in :
“Memory Rose Into Threshold Speech” (FSG 2020)

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