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  • Carrie Etter

Paul Celan: 70 Poems (trans. Michael Hamburger) (Persea, 2013), first selection


It seemed time to return to Paul Celan's work, and I couldn't find my previous edition of his poems, so I purchased this one, as it was also translated by the late Michael Hamburger.

The monks with hairy fingers opened the book: September.

Now Jason pelts with snow the newly sprouting grain.

opening lines of 'Tallow Lamp'

Your hair too hovers above the sea with the golden juniper.

opening line of 'Your Hair Above the Sea'

We went shopping for hearts at the flower girl's booth:

they were blue and they opened up in the water.

from 'Memory of France'

He's the one who has what I said.

He carries it under his arm like a bundle.

He carries it as the clock carries its worst hour.

from 'Chanson of a Lady in the Shade'

Brightness that will not comfort, brightness you shed.

from 'Assisi'

Sand

you demand in return,

for the last

rose back at home

this evening also wants to be fed

out of the trickling hour.

second and final stanza of 'This Evening Also'

Of chased gold, as

you instructed me, Mother,

I shaped the candlestick from which

she darkens up for me in the midst

of splintering hours:

your

being's dead daughter.

opening stanza of 'In Front of a Candle'

Speak--

but keep yes and no unsplit.

And give your say this meaning:

give it the shade.

from 'Speak, You Also'

#PaulCelan #MichaelHamburger #PaulCelan70Poems #PerseaBooks

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