Hi friends! For my featured poet series, I am pleased to introduce you to the poems by Paul Celan.
Paul Antschel, who wrote under the pseudonym Paul Celan, was born in Czernovitz, in Romania, on November 23, 1920. The son of German-speaking Jews, Celan grew up speaking several languages, including Romanian, Russian, and French. He also understood Yiddish. He studied medicine in Paris in 1938, but returned to Romania shortly before the outbreak of World War II. His parents were deported and eventually died in Nazi labor camps; Celan himself was interned for eighteen months before escaping to the Red Army.
In 1945, he moved to Bucharest and became friends with many of the leading Romanian writers of the time. He worked as a reader in a publishing house and as a translator. He also began to publish his own poems and translations under a series of pseudonyms. In 1947 he settled on the pseudonym Celan—an anagram of Ancel, the Romanian form of his surname. He lived briefly in Vienna before settling in Paris in 1948 to study German philology and literature. He took his Licence des Lettres in 1950, and in 1952 he married the graphic artist Gisele de Lestrange. They had a son, Eric, in 1955.
Celan’s first book was published in 1947; it received very little critical attention. His second book, Mohn und Gedaechtnis(Poppy and Memory), however, garnered tremendous acclaim and helped to establish his reputation. Among his most well-known and often-anthologized poems from this time is “Fugue of Death.” The poem opens with the words “Black milk of daybreak we drink it at evening / we drink it at midday and morning we drink it at night” and it goes on to offer a stark evocation of life in the Nazi death camps.
In 1959, Celan took a job as a reader in German Language and Literature at L’École Normal Superieure of the University of Paris, a position he would hold until his death in 1970. His poems from this period grew shorter, more fragmented and broken in their syntax and perceptions. In 1958, he was awarded the Bremen Literature Prize and in 1960 he received a Georg Buchner Prize. During the 1960s he published more than six books of poetry and gained international fame. In addition to his own poems, he remained active as a translator, bringing out works from writers such as Henri Michaux and Rene Char. In 1970, Celan committed suicide. He is regarded as one of the most important poets to emerge from post-World War II Europe.
Fugue of Death
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
Please continue reading here.
Hours, May-colored, cool.
The no-more to be named, hot,
audible in the mouth.
No one's voice, again.
Aching depth of the eyeball:
does not stand in its way, the lash
does not count what goes in.
The tear, half,
the sharper lens, movable,
brings the images home to you.
above the grayblack wastes.
grasps the light-tone: there are
still songs to sing beyond
You can read more of his poems here.
The challenge is write a new poem or prose poem inspired by the title, verse or style by Paul Celan. I look forward to reading your work. Please visit and comment on the work of others. And Happy Weekend to all ! Grace (aka Heaven)