Wednesday, July 30, 2014

For These Times: One of My Literary Heroes

One of my literary heroes
Paul Celan (1920-1970) is a poet that I read again and again, there is so much to absorb. I've spent all morning trying to get these line breaks right and my sincere apologies if it doesn't transfer onto the web quite right. I need to read his work again right now. I'm especially in need of this quote:

Only one thing remained reachable, close and secure amid all losses: language. Yes, language. In spite of everything, it remained secure against loss. But it had to go through its own lack of answers, through terrifying silence, through the thousand darknesses of murderous speech. It went through. It gave me no words for what was happening, but went through it. Went through and could resurface, 'enriched' by it all.


Here is one of my favorite poems of all times. Thank you to Peter Aaron for first introducing the work of Paul Celan to me. 


Fugue of Death



Black milk of daybreak we drink it at nightfall

we drink it at noon in the morning we drink it at night

we drink it and drink it

we are digging a grave in the sky it is ample to lie there

A man in the house he plays with the serpents he writes

he writes when the night falls to Germany your golden

hair Margarete

he writes it and walks from the house the stars glitter he

whistles his dogs up

he whistles his Jews out and orders a grave to be dug in

the earth

he commands us strike up for the dance



Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night

we drink you in the morning 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 there and you others play on

for the dancing



Black milk of daybreak we drink you at nightfall

we drink you at noon in the mornings we drink you at

nightfall

drink you and drink you

a man in the house your golden hair Margarete

your ashen hair Shulamith he plays with the serpents

He shouts play sweeter death’s music

death comes as a master from Germany

he shouts stroke darker the strings and as smoke you

shall climb to the sky

then you’ll have a grave in the clouds it is ample to lie

there



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

your ashen hair Shulamith.


Paul Celan

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