One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Paul Celan's "Todtnauberg"

I've already mentioned the meeting between Celan and Heidegger in relation to Grass's My Century (maybe I'll turn to that next or soon), but I thought it worthwhile to post Celan's own cryptic account: "Todtnauberg" (see below).

I'll also throw in an interesting exegesis of the poem (one of many, I'm sure) I unearthed on Google this morning. Though I've personally only skimmed it today (I spent a few hours with this essay, or a similar one, a couple years ago), I particularly liked the admission at the end: "A translation of a poem has to be a poem."

 http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/joris/todtnauberg.html

*

TODTNAUBERG

Arnica, Eyebright, the
drink from the well with the
star-die on top,

in the
hut,

into the book
-- whose name did it take in
before mine? --
the line written into
this book about
a hope, today,
for a thinker's
(un-
delayed coming)
word
in the heart,

woodland turf, unleveled,
Orchis and Orchis, singly,

crudeness, later, while driving,
clearly,

the one driving us, the man
who hears it too,

the half-
trodden log-
paths on high moorland,

dampness,
much.

Knock the
light-wedges away:

the floating word
is dusk's.

(translated by John Felstiner)

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