Ode to Friday: Celan

celan1a

I can still see you: an Echo,
to be touched with Feeler-
Words, on the Parting-
Ridge.

Your face softly shies away,
when all at once there is
lamp-like brightness
in me, at the Point,
where most painfully one says Never.

~ I Can Still See You by Paul Celan (Romanian, French, 1920-1970)
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11 thoughts on “Ode to Friday: Celan

    • Celan could have been speaking of his own face, don’t you think Kim? It’s beautiful to me.

      His story is a very sad one. He was born in Romania to a German-speaking Jewish family. First, the Soviets deported many to Siberia, then Nazi Germany moved in. In June 1942 Celan had been arguing with his parents urging them to leave the country for safety. On June 21, which I’ve just realised is the anniversary today (your time) and yest (my time) — how eerie — he had another argument with his parents and left the home to spend the night with friends. It was on that very night that they came for his parents who were transported to the camps and later executed. Celan got the news of his parents’ death when he arrived at another camp on his own internment. He survived in body, though according to all accounts including his own, he never got over the guilt and grief. He eventually moved to Paris and became a French citizen. He drowned himself in the Seine at the age of 49.

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  1. It is indeed a gem to be treasured this terrible and beautiful sad memory tattooed forever on one’s mind. You’ve done it again Narelle, with this uncanny ability to unearth these talents. Thank you for this. This same echo, or one like it awakens my memory to a loss in my youth that inspired me to write the piece many years later, that now follows, which I do as a homage to Paul Celan, and you for kindly introducing him to us. Thanks again… JJ

    “ Echoes ”
    ~ of melancholia ~

    I’ve come to feel
    More than I hear,
    Sounds that echo
    Disquieting fears,
    Of memory’s stead,
    To suffer imagines
    Played in my head,
    That come to haunt
    Tho long felt dead,
    These linger there
    In lugubrious tell,
    I’m made endure
    Alleged indeed
    By way of hell,
    Grey matter’s need,
    The while remains
    A mind to claim,
    Worrying echoes
    Of melancholia
    Be the apparent fare!

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  2. What a sad, sad memory. Serendipitous that Celan moved just before his parents were taken away. And doubly sad that he should die at such an early age. The final line “most painfully one says Never”. Brings chills doesn’t it?

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