Poems, Imitations & Translations


The Britney Suite (25)

About 20 April 1970, around Passover, Celan went from the bridge into the Seine and, though a strong swimmer, drowned unobserved. ... Mail piled up under the door of his barely furnished flat. Gisèle called a friend to see if perhaps her husband had at last gone to Prague. On 1 May a fisherman came on his body seven miles downstream. …
People have said that Celan took his own life at forty-nine because valid speech in German was impossible after or about Auschwitz. Yet this was the impossibility that incited him … And he did speak – more validly than could ever have been imagined.
Maybe he felt too alone: “no one / witnesses for the / witness.”

– John Felstiner, Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew (1995)

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