Liking Things

I came across this series of poems in an old copy of Circumference (an awesome journal of poetry in  translation that I’m going to be referencing in another post soon). If there was a summer jam of poetry, these quietly haunting poems by Paul Celan would be my “Crazy In Love” of spring 2008.

Discus, bestarred
with face fronts,
throw yourself
out of yourself.

Knock the
lightwedges off:
dusk’s got
the swimming word.
*     *     *
The escaped
gray parrots
say mass
in your mouth.
You hear it rain
and guess that this time too
it’s God.
*     *     *
In the dark clearings I learned it:
you live toward me, nevertheless,
in the standpipe,
in the
*     *     *
Cut the prayerhand
the air
with eye-
lop off its fingers
with your kiss:
the folded now happens
*     *     *
I can still see you: an echo,
palpable with feel-
words, at the parting-
Your face shies quietly,
when all at once
lamplike it lights up
in me, at the place
where most painfully one says Never.

–From Paul Celan’s “Lightduress,” Cycle III, translated from the German Pierre Joris


3 responses to “Liking Things

  1. As only an initial comment, I have to say this is more than refreshing. “in the standpipe, in the standpipe.” Already one of my favorite moments. But I think it raises some of the same questions that we’ve been discussing–about opacity and readership. That said, it resonates beautifully in the part of me that writes and listens to music. This appears to be both.

  2. Try to find Simic’s translations of Novica Tadic if you can. Subject material is a trifle edgier than this, but equally enjoyable.

  3. I looked up what Miles said mentioned in the last comment:


    Great wise night
    Under the city walls
    You pull me out of
    The monster’s socket

    Lead me crazed
    Out on the empty square
    So I may walk again
    Around myself

    And see once more
    That I’m still
    A living creature

    Son of thunder and smoke
    The lost son
    The solitary, generously salted–Nobody

    –Novica Tadic
    translated by Charles Simic

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