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Best Famous Paul Celan Poems

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by Paul Muldoon | |


 Even as we speak, there's a smoker's cough
from behind the whitethorn hedge: we stop dead in our tracks;
a distant tingle of water into a trough.
In the past half-hour—since a cattle truck all but sent us shuffling off this mortal coil— we've consoled ourselves with the dregs of a bottle of Redbreast.
Had Hawthorne been a Gael, I insist, the scarlet A on Hester Prynne would have stood for "Alcohol.
" This must be the same truck whose taillights burn so dimly, as if caked with dirt, three or four hundred yards along the boreen (a diminutive form of the Gaelic bóthar, "a road," from bó, "a cow," and thar meaning, in this case, something like "athwart," "boreen" has entered English "through the air" despite the protestations of the O.
): why, though, should one taillight flash and flare then flicker-fade to an afterimage of tourmaline set in a dark part-jet, part-jasper or -jade? That smoker's cough again: it triggers off from drumlin to drumlin an emphysemantiphon of cows.
They hoist themselves onto their trampoline and steady themselves and straight away divine water in some far-flung spot to which they then gravely incline.
This is no Devon cow-coterie, by the way, whey-faced, with Spode hooves and horns: nor are they the metaphysicattle of Japan that have merely to anticipate scoring a bull's-eye and, lo, it happens; these are earth-flesh, earth-blood, salt of the earth, whose talismans are their own jawbones buried under threshold and hearth.
For though they trace themselves to the kith and kine that presided over the birth of Christ (so carry their calves a full nine months and boast liquorice cachous on their tongues), they belong more to the line that's tramped these cwms and corries since Cuchulainn tramped Aoife.
Again the flash.
Again the fade.
However I might allegorize some oscaraboscarabinary bevy of cattle there's no getting round this cattle truck, one light on the blink, laden with what? Microwaves? Hi-fis? Oscaraboscarabinary: a twin, entwined, a tree, a Tuareg; a double dung-beetle; a plain and simple hi-firing party; an off-the-back-of-a-lorry drogue? Enough of Colette and Céline, Céline and Paul Celan: enough of whether Nabokov taught at Wellesley or Wesleyan.
Now let us talk of slaughter and the slain, the helicopter gunship, the mighty Kalashnikov: let's rest for a while in a place where a cow has lain.

by Paul Celan | |

This Evening Also

 more fully,
since snow fell even on this
sun-drifted, sun-drenched sea,
blossoms the ice in those baskets
you carry into town.
sand you demand in return, for the last rose back at home this evening also wants to be fed out of the trickling hour.

by Paul Celan | |

Twelve Years

 The line
that remained, that
became true: .
your house in Paris -- become the alterpiece of your hands.
Breathed through thrice, shone through thrice.
It's turning dumb, turning deaf behind our eyes.
I see the poison flower in all manner of words and shapes.
Love blots out its name: to you it ascribes itself.
Michael Hamburger

by Paul Celan | |


 tall poplars -- human beings of this earth!
black pounds of happiness -- you mirror them to death!

I saw you, sister, stand in that effulgence.

by Paul Celan | |


 not on my lips look for your mouth,
not in front of the gate for the stranger,
not in the eye for the tear.
seven nights higher red makes for red, seven hearts deeper the hand knocks on the gate, seven roses later plashes the fountain.

by Paul Celan | |

The Triumph Of Achilles

 In the story of Patroclus
no one survives, not even Achilles
who was nearly a god.
Patroclus resembled him; they wore the same armor.
Always in these friendships one serves the other, one is less than the other: the hierarchy is always apparant, though the legends cannot be trusted-- their source is the survivor, the one who has been abandoned.
What were the Greek ships on fire compared to this loss? In his tent, Achilles grieved with his whole being and the gods saw he was a man already dead, a victim of the part that loved, the part that was mortal.

by Paul Celan | |

Night Ray

 Most brightly of all burned the hair of my evening loved one:
to her I send the coffin of lightest wood.
Waves billow round it as round the bed of our dream in Rome; it wears a white wig as I do and speaks hoarsely: it talks as I do when I grant admittance to hearts.
It knows a French song about love, I sang it in autumn when I stopped as a tourist in Lateland and wrote my letters to morning.
A fine boat is that coffin carved in the coppice of feelings.
I too drift in it downbloodstream, younger still than your eye.
Now you are young as a bird dropped dead in March snow, now it comes to you, sings you its love song from France.
You are light: you will sleep through my spring till it's over.
I am lighter: in front of strangers I sing.

by Paul Celan | |


 Autunm eats its leaf out of my hand: we are friends.
From the nuts we shell time and we teach it to walk: then time returns to the shell.
In the mirror it's Sunday, in dream there is room for sleeping, our mouths speak the truth.
My eye moves down to the sex of my loved one: we look at each other, we exchange dark words, we love each other like poppy and recollection, we sleep like wine in the conches, like the sea in the moon's blood ray.
We stand by the window embracing, and people look up from the street: it is time they knew! It is time the stone made an effort to flower, time unrest had a beating heart.
It is time it were time.
It is time.

by Paul Celan | |

Death Fugue

 Black milk of daybreak we drink it at sundown
we drink it at noon in the morning we drink it at night
we drink it and drink it
we dig a grave in the breezes there one lies unconfined
A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents
 he writes
he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden
 hair Margarete
he writes it ans steps out of doors and the stars are
 flashing he whistles his pack out
he whistles his Jews out in earth has them dig for a
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
we drink and we drink you
A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents
 he writes
he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden hair
your ashen hair Sulamith we dig a grave in the breezes
 there one lies unconfined

He calls out jab deeper into the earth you lot you
 others sing now and play
he grabs at teh iron in his belt he waves it his
 eyes are blue
jab deper you lot with your spades you others play
 on for the dance

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at at noon in the morning we drink you
 at sundown
we drink and we drink you
a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Sulamith he plays with the serpents
He calls out more sweetly play death death is a master
 from Germany
he calls out more darkly now stroke your strings then
 as smoke you will rise into air
then a grave you will have in the clouds there one
 lies unconfined

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at noon death is a master from Germany
we drink you at sundown and in the morning we drink
 and we drink you
death is a master from Germany his eyes are blue
he strikes you with leaden bullets his aim is true
a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
he sets his pack on to us he grants us a grave in
 the air
He plays with the serpents and daydreams death is
 a master from Germany

your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Shulamith

by Paul Celan | |


 In Kohln, a town of monks and bones,
And pavements fang'd with murderous stones
And rags, and hags, and hideous wenches;
I counted two and seventy stenches,
All well defined, and several stinks!
Ye Nymphs that reign o'er sewers and sinks,
The river Rhine, it is well known,
Doth wash your city of Cologne;
 But tell me, Nymphs, what power divine
 Shall henceforth wash the river Rhine?