Erik (eriktrips) wrote,


This is for daisydumont at lj but I thought I would just post and share with everyone some Paul Celan. I think three poems might be enough and I'll copy the German for those what understands it; I myself need the crib notes of the English translation on the facing page but I might 'adjust' the translation in a couple of places because it is difficult sometimes to get the sense of where Celan leaves off when he suddenly leaves off--

and he does that quite a bit.

The only warning I feel I should give is that when I read Celan's poetry I wonder why I bother writing. But, you know, I don't let that stop me.

Es war Erde in ihnen, und
sie gruben.

Sie gruben und gruben, so ging
ihr Tag dahin, ihre Nacht. Und sie lobten nicht Gott,
der, so hörten sie, alles dies wollte,
der, so hörten sie, alles dies wußte.

Sie gruben und hörten nichts mehr;
sie wurden nicht weise, erfanden kein Lied,
erdachten sich keinerlei Sprache.
Sie gruben.

Es kam eine Stille, es kam auch ein Sturm,
es kamen die Meere alle.
Ich grabe, du gräbst, und es gräbt auch der Wurm,
und das Singende dort sagt: Sie graben.

O einer, o keiner, o niemand, o du:
Wohin gings, da's nirgendhin ging?
O du gräbst und ich grab, und ich grab mich dir zu,
und am Finger erwacht uns der Ring.

There was earth inside them, and
they dug.

They dug and they dug, so their day
went by for them, their night. And they did not praise God,
who, so they heard, wanted all this,
who, so they heard, knew all this.

They dig and heard nothing more;
they did not grow wise, invented no song,
thought up for themselves no language.
They dug.

There came a stillness, and there came a storm,
and all the oceans came.
I dig, you dig, and the worm digs too,
and that singing out there says: They dig.

O one, o none, o no one, o you:
Where did the way lead when it led nowhere?
O you dig and I dig, and I dig towards you,
and on our finger the ring awakes.


Zu beiden Händen, da
wo die Sterne mir wuchsen, fern
allen Himmeln, nah
allen Himmeln:
wacht es sich da! Wie
tut sich de Welt uns auf, mitten
durch uns!

Du bist,
wo dein Aug ist, du bist
oben, bist
unten, ich
finde hinaus.

O diese wandernde leere
gastlich Mitte. Getrennt,
fall ich dir zu, fällst
du mir zu, einander
entfallen, sehn wir

hat uns
verloren, das
hat uns
vergessen, das
hat uns--

On either hand, there
where stars grew for me, far
from all heavens, near
all heavens:
one's awake there! How
the world opens for us, right though the midst
of ourselves!

You are
where your eye is, you are
above, are
below, I
find my way out.

O this wandering empty
hospitable midst. Apart,
I fall to you, you
fall to me, fallen away
from each other, we see

and the same
lost us, one
and the same
forgotten us, one
and the same


Niemand knetet uns wieder aus Erde und Lehm,
niemand bespricht unsern Staub.

Gelobt seist du, Niemand.
Dir zulieb wollen
wir blühn.

Ein Nichts
waren wir, sind wir, werden
wir bleiben, blühend:
die Nichts--, die

dem Griffel seelenhell,
dem Staubfaden himmelswüst
der Krone rot
vom Purpurwort, das wir sangen
über, o über
dem Dorn.

No one molds us again out of earth and clay,
no one conjures our dust.
No one.

Praised be your name, no one.
For your sake
we shall flower.

A nothing
we were, are, shall
remain, flowering:
the nothing--, the
no one's rose

our pistil soul-bright,
with our stamen heaven-ravaged,
our corolla red
with the crimson word, which we sang
over, o over
the thorn.

This entry was composed @Dreamwidth.
Feel free to comment either here or there.

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