Poems, Imitations & Translations


Celanie: Poems (2010-12)

[Gisèle Celan-Lestrange: Etching]

Reading these letters doubled with poems is also to delimit the space where Celan habitually deployed his language, and which he referred to – not entirely seriously – as his “Celanie”: the Rue des Ecoles, the Rue de Lota, the Rue de Montevideo, the Rue de Longchamp, the Rue d’Ulm, the Rue Cabanis (Faculty Clinic, Saint-Anne), the Rue Tournefort and Avenue Émile Zola …

– Bertrand Badiou, “Notice Editoriale”. In Paul Celan & Gisèle Celan-Lestrange. Correspondance (1951-1970). 2 vols. Librairie du XXIe siècle (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2001): 2: 10.

[Cover design: Ellen Portch / Cover image: Emma Smith]


Poems & Drawings after Paul Celan

by Jack Ross & Emma Smith

Afterword by Bronwyn Lloyd

  1. Poems

  2. Bibliography

[Celanie: Poems & Drawings after Paul Celan. Poems by Jack Ross & Drawings by Emma Smith. Introduction by Jack Ross. Afterword by Bronwyn Lloyd. ISBN: 978-0-473-22484-4. Pania Samplers, 3. Auckland: Pania Press, 2012. 168 pp.]


Key:Title[date of composition][Letter number](date of translation)

    I: STEHEN [1952-1965]:

  1. Maïa[7/1/52][5](9/3-11/4/10)
  2. The sun’s[1952][22](9/3-29/4/10)
  3. I heard[Autumn 1952][23](9/3-2/11/10)
  4. Already[30/3/54][37](9/3-11/4/10)
  5. Islandward[22/6/54][42](5/3-11/4/10)
  6. The Beach at Toulinguet[Autumn 1954][43](9/3-25/4/10)
  7. You[20/11/54][44](5/3-10/4/10)
  8. So[7/4/55][58](9/3-29/4/10)
  9. Matter of Britain[13/8/57][83](9/3-29/4/10)
  10. The word[5/3/59 – 21/11/65][106 / 302](9/3-29/4/10)
  11. Heart (for René Char[6/1/60][114](9/3-11/4/10)
  12. Hard[15/12/60][130](27/3-23/5/10)
  13. A Thieves’ & Beggars’ Ballad[2/61][133](27/1-7/8/11)
  14. The bright[10/7/61][138](5/3-9/6/10)
  15. The buzzard’s[21/10/62 – 19/3/63] [153 / 175](9/3/10-27/1-6/8/11)
  16. This[3/11/62][158](5/3/10-7/8/11)
  17. Thinking[24/10/63][176](27/1-9/8/11)
  18. Hourglass[4/6/64][184](5/3/10-27/1-9/8/11)
  19. Those[January 1965][212](27/1-12/8/11)
  20. & our son[6/5/65][221](27/1-12/8/11)
  21. A roar[7/5/65][222](27/1-12/8/11)
  22. Souvenir of D.[10/5/65][231](27/1-14/8/11)
  23. Give the Word[14/5/65][236](5/3/10-27/1-14/8/11)
  24. Bowls[9/5/65][236](9/3/10-27/1-14/8/11)
  25. Banners[4/8/65][253](27/1-14/8/11)
  26. Rest[18/8/65][264](27/1-17/8/11)
  27. Come[7/9/65][275](25/9/11)
  28. Chance[24/9/65][282](27/1-17/8/11)
  29. The ounce[25/10/65][296](5/3/10-27/1-17/8/11)
  30. Noisy[26/10/65][300](27/1-23/8/11)

  31. II: IMMER [1966]:

  32. Depths[25/2-2/3/66][359](5/3/10-27/1-23/8/11)
  33. Molten gold[28/2/66][359](27/1-23/8/11)
  34. Hewed stone[17/3/66][373](5/3/10-27/1-6/10/11)
  35. Suffocating[20/3/66][376](27/1-24/8/11)
  36. Spiky[21/3/66][379](27/1-24/8/11)
  37. Underrun[26/3/66][382](27/1-26/8/11)
  38. Shame[26/3/66][383](17/1/10-27/1-26/8/11)
  39. Above our heads[28/3/66][386](5/3-25/4/10)
  40. Are[28/3/66][386](5/3-25/4/10)
  41. Dauntless[29/3/66][388](5/3/10-28/1-26/8/11)
  42. After abandoning[30/3/66][389](28/1-31/8/11)
  43. Irruption[31/3/66][391](28/1-31/8/11)
  44. True as a scar[26/3/66][396](5/3/10-28/1-31/8/11)
  45. Thoughtless[4/4/66][398](28/1-31/8/11)
  46. Rope[6/4 – 17/4/66][401 / 408](28/1-1/9/11)
  47. By ice fire[7/4/66][402](28/1-4/9/11)
  48. Forced to come down[7/4/66][403](4/5/10-28/1-4/9/11)
  49. & if[8/4/66][404](28/1-4/9/11)
  50. Torchsong[9/4/66][405](28/1-6/9/11)
  51. Mit uns[16/4/66][409](28/1-6/9/11)
  52. Wilderness[22/4/66][412](5/3/10-28/1-7/9/11)
  53. I'm writing down[23/4/66][415](5/3-25/4/10)
  54. Sacrificial troughs[27/4/66][421](28/1-9/9/11)
  55. Devastations?[1/5/66][424](11-3/10-28/1-9/9/11)
  56. Whistled up[2/5/66][428](11/3/10-28/1-10/9/11)
  57. My Dear[2/5/66][429](28/1-10/9/11)
  58. Bouts of sleep[13/6/66][455](28/1-10/9/11)

  59. III: LE PONT DES ANNÉES [1967-1969]:

  60. Arrow-sister[24/5/67][508](28/1-12/9/11)
  61. Paired, by the Brâncuşi[4/8/67][540](28/1-12/9/11)
  62. Tow-barge[3/12/67][595](28/1-13/9/11)
  63. Lilac air[23/12/67][595](28/1-13/9/11)
  64. Gravediggers[25/12/67][595](28/1-13/9/11)
  65. Year opening[2/1/68][595](28/1-13/9/11)
  66. This world’s[5/1/68][595](28/1-13/9/11)
  67. What’s stitched[10/1/68][597](28/1-14/9/11)

  68. [Black Toll]:

  69. [i]Relics of hearing[9/6/67][599](27/3/10-28/1-16/9/11)
  70. [ii]Night rode him[9-10-11/6-10/9/67][599](27/3/10-28/1-16/9/11)
  71. [iii]Shoals of mussels[14/6/67][599](27/3/10-28/1-17/9/11)
  72. [iv]Weighed[15/6/67][599](27/3/10-28/1-17/9/11)
  73. [v]Studded[16/6/67][599](11/3/10-28/1-18/9/11)
  74. [vi]Gone[20/6/67][599](11/3/10-28/1-18/9/11)
  75. [vii]Already we lay[24/6/67][599](11/3/10-28/1-18/9/11)
  76. [viii]Mines[27-28/6/67][599](11/3/10-28/1-18/9/11)
  77. [ix]Who[1/7/67][599](11/3-11/4/10)
  78. [x]Loaded[5/7/67][599](11/3/10-28/1-18/9/11)
  79. [xi]Green light[8/7/67][599](11/3/10-28/1-19/9/11)
  80. [xii]Beacon-[8/7/67][599](11/3/10-28/1-19/9/11)
  81. [xiii]Adjusted[17/7/67][599](11/3/10-28/1-19/9/11)
  82. [xiv]That[17/7/67][599](11/3/10-28/1-19/9/11)
  83. Creeping weed[25/2/69][639](11/3/10-28/1-20/9/11)
  84. Hateful moons[21/3/69][642](11/3/10-1/2-20/9/11)
  85. In[29/3/69][643](11/3-25/4/10)
  86. Kew Gardens[6/4/69][648](11/3-25/4/10)
  87. Gold[12/4/69][649](27/3/10-28/1-20/9/11)
  88. The world[21/4/69][651](11/3/10-28/1-19/9/11)
  89. I see you[4-5/5/69][653](11/3-25/4/10)
  90. Above[9/5/69][654](11/3-25/4/10)
  91. There[13/12/69][670](11/3-11/4/10)

  92. Poser [1967]:

  93. Leave[24/6/67][676](8/2-25/4/10)




I accept

I resist

I refuse

– Paul Celan (8/6/1961)


I have the impression
coming towards you
of leaving a world behind
hearing doors slam
door after door
doors of misunderstanding
false clarity

Perhaps there are far more doors to come
perhaps I haven’t yet crossed
this field of signs
that baffle me
but I am coming
can’t you hear me?

The beat picks up
the lights go out
one after another
the lying mouths
choke on their bile
no more words
no sound
but the pad of my feet

I’ll be there soon
be there with you
in the moment that begins
all time



“Celanie: 5 Versions from Paul Celan.” brief 41 (2010): 54-59.

The sun's

not always
written on your forehead
wakening the rose
from the waste

Sometimes you see
across the sand
the soul
who sees your sea

[Paris, 1952]


I heard

of a stone and a cross
in the water
and over the cross a word
binding the stone

I saw my poplar tree go down into the water
I saw how its branches gripped the bank
I saw how its roots reached up to beg for night

I did not go in after them
I collected these crumbs
like bloody eyes
I fastened these words around your neck
and set the table where the crumbs lie scattered

I did not see my tree again

[Paris, Autumn 1952]



I have returned a little
one more long week
and I’ll be there
here I’m already
with you

Now say my name
out loud
and I’ll say yours



“Project Books.” Mosehouse Studio (16/4/10).


among the dead
bonded to your outrigger
arms tanned black
soul turned to stone

friends and strangers
row through bell buoys
skirt sharkblue surf

row row row
dead swimmers follow
piercing their threadbare nets
tomorrow the sea

will turn to dust



“Celanie: 5 Versions from Paul Celan.” brief 41 (2010): 54-59.

The Beach at Toulinguet

What we saw is coming now
to say goodbye to you and me
the seawhich tossed our nights together
the sandwhich blew them back
againthe rust-red heather
under us

[Autumn 1954]



would be light and a swimmer
in the dark, the drunken sea
so give him this drop to drink
the mirror of your dreams
the wine of the soul in your eyes

Darker your sea now, drunken
teeming with dolphins and sharks
Light would you be and a bird
There’s nothing above that’s not here

[Paris, 20/11/54]



I turn myself
like stone
to you above

Two creases
on my forehead
hollowed out

by driven sand
inside me

by blows
the place of the eye

on the wall
the theatre

of memory
a voice
a drunken voice

looms up
behind us
masked by night



Matter of Britain

Gorselight, yellow, slopes
against the skyThorn
disinfects your woundsRing
out, it’s eveningNothing
crosses the sea to pray
The bloodred sheet sets sail for you

Arid, dried-out, bed
behind youScar-
embossedmilky inlets
in the vaseDate
stones underneath, furred blue
tufts of forgetfulness
your memory

(Do you know me
hands? I went
by the forked route you showed
me, my mouth spat pebbles, I walked
through snowdrifts, shadow – do you know me?)

Hands, the thorn-
burnt wound rings out
Hands, nothing, the sea
Hands, in the gorse-light
the bloody sheet
sets sail for you

you teach
your teach your hands
you teach your hands, you teach
you teach your hands
to sleep



“Celanie: 5 Versions from Paul Celan.” brief 41 (2010): 54-59.

“Channeling Paul Celan.” Rabbit 5: The Rare Issue (Winter 2012): 118-31.

The word

goes deep
we read it
the yearswords since
still that

you knowthat space is infinite
you knowyou don’t have to fly
you knowwhat’s written in your eye
goes deep enough for me



(for René Char)

The times are against us
we who dare to act alive
the antihuman
shadows us
dead – living / living – dead
no sky above
the sacred earth
no consolation
nothing to say
our thoughts are teeth
one word alone
inscribes itself



“Celanie: 5 Versions from Paul Celan.” brief 41 (2010): 54-59.


like your years
of being here
with me

schwer my love hard

difficult as this
then outside
in the dark
another test

three times
three times

hard harder hardest

never put
on a mask
with me


written in Paris,
transcribed in Montana, 23rd December
on the “Bridge of Years”, waiting for you
& your white lilies



A Thieves’ & Beggars’ Ballad
sung in 1961 by Paul Celan

If your heels are nimble and light
You can get there by candlelight

Once when beggars grew on trees
there was a reason
to look up

the wind has torn my beard
away my yellow star
my bushy beard

crooked was the way
I went crooked
because I walked
so straight

O and
they said my nose was crooked

but we were off to Babylon
how many miles how many
miles to the gallows tree?
the almond tree the tree of alms

almshouse armband
the juniper the tree of bones
the Mandelstam the Mandelbaum

sleep tight tonight
by candlelight

[February 1961]


The bright

stones go up in the air
clear, white, light-

They don’t want
to fall back, touch,
They go up
like wild flowers
then, closing, fall
on you
my light
my truth

I look at you
you take them from my hands
you put them back into
the light, which no-one needs
to own or name



The buzzard’s

wing at
twelve o’clock
in the Jura
at Larchstone
from the uneasiness
where we walked
the hollow
beamed its nothing
through us

[21/10/62 / 19/3/63]
[153 / 175]



is the moment
when the werewolves
stick to the horizon


Alone and naked
walks upright
among men


(5/3/10-7/8/11 )


drove me out
out of the world
but you were there
discreet and open
you welcomed us

says that it all dies for us
the moment that we close our eyes?
Wake up
Start again

Two souls
can quell
a burning sun
by standing in its way

Your lap
opened and a sigh
rose in the ether
and through the haze wasn’t that
something like a face?
wasn’t that something like
a name
for us?


For you, my love, / this poem, / which, in its own way, / still helps us / to resist
Paris, 26.4.1965




buried deep
in the shade of the peonies

when thoughts descend
like Pentecost
your kingdom falls
hope stills your spinning sands




who stole most
called him the thief
those who aped him
called him the plagiarist

Those who owed him their spark
found him too passive
those whom he’d touched (and not just with words)
called him the undead

Publicity hounds
testified to their own modesty
and his hubris

Traitor assassins
called him a criminal
those who’d betrayed him
called him distrustful
those who’d insulted him
called him "too sensitive"

When he made an appeal
to solidarity
people commiserated
clapped him on the back
Those who’d orchestrated the campaign
upheld him
“as a hanged man his rope”

Those whom he’d helped climb
helped him to descend

He was cut up
and parcelled round
There were not a few friends
among the beneficiaries

wanted to go into bat for him –
he straddled the steps
of a certain Academy
the very same one
which gave out prizes
to those who had slandered and betrayed him
(Many others had attained
such yawning heights.)

Veterans of the Hitler Youth
helped strip him of his history
and pin it on one
who had never experienced it
and who, complacently,
acquiesced in the plans
of these old enemies.
Under their auspices she became’
the paragon of Jewishness.
They christened her Queen – whence
the red in her purple?
It’s possible, she proclaimed
That the destiny of my people
shines out from me
Possible, yes.
But does it?
As for the light
that shone from her already
they put it out.

Who and what
drove Nelly Sachs to madness?
pushed her
to such megalomaniac delusions?

In Stockholm, I heard her say
The people in Auschwitz
Didn’t suffer what I do
Others heard that, too
(Lenke Rohmann among them).
Who was guilty of that?
What shame
must hang around that head?

[January 1965]


& our son

lives with us
growing up
while we work
hardare there
for him



A roar

Truth itself
come among mankind
in a storm of metaphor


For you, my love,
For you Alix-Marie-Gisèle
Antschel, née de Lestrange,
For you, my noble one
For you the mother
of my only son



Souvenir of D.

Lichtenberg’s dozen serviettes
hand-me-down with a tablecloth – a
planetary greeting to
the speech-frieze round our
death-hushed zone
of signs

no heaven no
earth memory
of both wiped
from the last blue
bird of happi
… his
comet-tail detected
by the city wall

A throat-vent meant
to keep him
from the All

The lost red thread-
end of
a thought
Cries crescendo
up above / down
below – whose?
so loud

don’t ask me where
I’m almost
can’t say where



Give the Word

Darkling, you give the skull cloven
in half? three-quarters? these passwords:
Tartar darts

Here they all come – male and female
Siphets and Probyls and the Lord knows what

Here comes a man

World-apple-big the tears beside you
run through / cut through
with answers
iced through – by whom?

Pass, you say
pass, friend, pass

the leprous liplock bursts from your palate
and fans your tongue with light, alight




of madness rotten

were I ash
I’d know how
to swallow
so much bitter
how to re-
chalk the circle
such sights




of fog of stencil rise
redder than red
as the glaciers
ice-bosses south-
wards past the seal people

The trace
you witness here
was hammered in
redder than red

trepanning from your skull
buried October

minting gold
from sterile moonscapes

unfurling flags

It posts the glass-heart flyer
on the news-red bollard
spewed from the earth
by stepsons
of the pole




on your wounds
gulp through them
gapped with silences

small spheres of pith
from the lookniche
they descend
by handkerchiefs

you’ve made it
heavy –
conquering the salt-bush
the double sea

Lightless it coils, colour-
less – transfixed by your
ivory needles
Who doesn’t know,
that the tiger stone that stung

gave up the ghost to bruise you?
and so
where did it fall?
Let it run upstream in time
With ten halfmoons in tow

into the snakepit on
the yellow tide qua-
si stellar




out Sun
Watch your children
Stay at home
Wrap up warm




blows away the sign
dovetailed by chance
windblown by signs

besieged by shadesbeset by calculus
besieged by shadesbeset by calculus
besieged by shadesbeset by calculus

you can be free
with a little help
from above
from truth and love

Eric you’re growing up
healthy and strong



The ounce

of truth deep in our craziness

that overturns
the state of things
as they babble
past each other

My son, much-hissed-at Justice
battling whole-heartedly
will always win




like where we started
in the ravine
where you fell down
– it was a ravine –
I wind the musicbox again
you know?
the invisible






We two – now & forever

– Paul Celan, under the poem “The Word”
in Die Niemandsrose (1963)


in front of your face
depths grey and blue
voices singing together
more tuneful than you

the bottomless abyss
cracks itself open
at first you’re after short-cuts
at last you just run on

those vultures’ beaks that gutted you
are trying to set you free
chained up in the Caucasus
in the great monotony



Molten Gold

in the earth’s wounds
outsides and insides
swapped to stop you
coining puns and memes
the rebel too chews
up his forebears
darkling buds
of May



Hewed stone

by strictnesss

unbridled ember
moonslighting up
one side of the cosmos

you do that

in the gaps of your memory
proud candles brand
their words of power




out on that meadow
by the glacier

laid bare
by his boss of stone

wells dug deep
through banks of clay

croaking after
names and voices
a hand in need
a star indeed

your gaze imperturbable

one more death than you
I’ve died




mouthed clan
spied through clear wood
crawling through
the royal dust

we don’t live here

by the unmissable
great and unsilenceable

Heard you must be
Seen you must be
Said you must be




by conduits of sorrow

listening for a word

good vibrations heard

among us?




despair disgust
helps you shape-

speechless comes
the unearthly
back onto itself

an earthling
feathering himself
a new nest
in the elm-roots
freed from dreams

once and for all?



Above our heads

hissed off
the sign
swollen by dreams
of the place

they named

make the sand-born leaf
your sign
till the sky burns




you dropping
the tagged

Nothing holds me here

not the night of the living
nor the night of the proud
nor the night of many hands

Help me roll the doorstone
back across the empty tomb




three times
graced with gifts
clear from afar

the Elm-root
looses lovers
from the thicket

heavy-tongued sayings
old and fatal sound out
once morecome closer

over the table
float double-handled
golden grails
of those who fought so wildly
ever came so close
to dauntless



After abandoning

the messenger-
bright day

brings louder
and louder blessings
to the bloody ear




of the undivided
in your speech

countercharm, contra-

To the alien high-
water mark scoured
clear of this


for you Gisele, today & always



True as a scar

traced on the outer

The dance was over
some time ago
the cash-fat
wait in the driveway
where it's all happening

at long-last




the lamp lets its light
fall on us

many-tongued flame
seeks out cold iron
from a hairsbreadth
hears it hiss


So heavily
for minutes at a time
we read
the crushing




strung between two
highborn heads
reach with your hands
for the Ever-Outer

the rope
should singit sings

the sound
shatters the seals
you break

[6/4 – 17/4//66]
[401 / 408]


By ice fire

light you crash
into the moving

brake brake – straight through

you know the sound
of crying know
that you’d be crying too

you can’t do more
the game goes on

through letter gaps

booms out inaudibly
winners and losers



Forced to come down

from the tightrope
you tot up
what can be counted on
with such rich gifts

the chalk-white face
of the ringmaster

scratches with bright nails
your name in lights

At the same time
mixes in darkness

you know it

even through
the mask of these
stubborn games



& if

the Turkish lilac
comes with questions
something more than scent
will be your reward




of feelings
born of pain

it doesn’t
bring up
many names

out of the bush
to take you on


a whiff of death
with it
as well



Mit uns

With us
there have been certain
yet we’re still
despite oncoming


for Eric, with a kiss
from his father




threaded through our days

again and again
scudding alone
beyond the lifeguard towers
the sturdy wing
of a black-backed



I’m writing down

a few lines here from a world
our world, just ours:

Don’t lose yourself
between the worlds

trust your tears
and learn to live

[Paris: 23/4/66]


Sacrificial troughs

on offer to the night
from hands
deep-glazed with clay

under the strobe lights
forevermore uprisen
that scintillating
some part of you
will bow to
in the gap




much less than that
much more

Some things are omitted
by the babbling pigeons
on their perches

eye and eyed soldered
together climb the vantage
point above the far
allotments of the shire

A language
gives birth to itself
by means of poems
ground out by automatons
each individual



Whistled up

by courtesy
of the wind-whipped marram grass
when you spin the wheel of fortune
under heaven
I will not be there
the wheel that straddles the sky
whose hub
I hold on to
a loner



My Dear

Four lines, here, tonight, on the lime
leaves that made me faint, keeping that.
All that, for those falling headlong upwards,
is a psalm, in a screech of metal.

One must be courageous to accept such short poems.
I kiss you


Hug our son.

Don’t forget, for Thursday: two light shirts, some summer pyjamas,
Uniprix slippers.

lime-leaved faint
for the upfallen



Bouts of sleep

deep in the nowhere
we stay the same
blesses us both




Le Pont des Années


To Gisèle,
on the Bridge of the years

– Paul Celan, Dedication in Atemwende (1st September, 1967)


the barn swallow’s
at its zenith

as the clock strikes
One rushes to meet
the hour hand

the shark spits out
the Inca live

(this was in colonial times
in Human-land)

what goes around
comes around
like us




Paired, by the Brâncuşi

If one of these stones could
let us know
what keeps it silent
near the old man’s Zimmer-frame
it would open like a wound
into which one dives
far from my voice
from all our redrafts




half-changelings haul
one of our worlds

lean years turned inward
speak from the bowed heads
along the bank




Lilac air

with flecks of yellow windows

the stars of Jacob’s staff
above the stump
of Anhalt Station

still nothing

from the Existential bar
to the
Snow Bar




in the wind

One’s playing the viola arms akimbo in the jug
One’s standing on his head in the word Enough
One’s hanging in the doorway by the windlass

This year’s
not galloping by
it’s switched December for November
it’s picking at scabs
it’s gaping before you



Year opening

with the rotten crusts
of mad-bread

from my mouth



This world’s

everything double

hoarsethe almighty clock
approves the hour’s

trapped in the depths
of your voice
you rise from you



What’s stitched

into that voice?
What’s it
this way
that way?

The precipice swears
by white alone
vomits up
the snow-needle

swallow it

you order the world
that counts as much
as reciting nine names
on your knees

Tumuli Tumuli
heap those mounds up
come alive
in a kiss

in the distance
a fin
lights up the bay
cast anchor
your shadow’s
lost in the undergrowth


a beetle spots you
you face
each other
cocoon you

the great
will let you pass

a leaf transfuses you
piped through
before you choke

you have the right to one tree
to one day
it notes down your number

a word with all its green
burrows in to plant itself

follow it



“Interpreting Paul Celan.” brief 46: The Survival Issue (2012): #.

[Black Toll, 1-15]:


Relics of hearing

what’s left of sight
in Dormitory 1001

daily all night
the bears polka

they’ll school you

again you’ll become




Night rode him

and he came to
the orphan’s rag his flag

no shortcuts
the nightmare straight

as if as if
caught in a thicket of oranges
hag-ridden, he had nothing on
except his
birthmark-mottled se-




Shoals of mussels

with my stone club
I break inside
casting upstream
to the homeland of the
melting ice
to him
with what totem?
in the dwarf-birch whistle

lemmings multiply

nothing later

incised discno

the all-changing
come grating in





with the ash-ladle
in the trough of being
second time round
one to each other

incomprehensibly fed
now far away from us
already – why?
raised to be divided

then (on the third
try?) blown
behind the horn
standing in front of
the sector of tears
once twicethree times

the odd number does it
from the budding





with microliths

A conversation
shuttling from side to side
singed by shimmering
gusts of fire

One sign
crams it together
in answer to this
humped rock-art





into the night
leaf as mouth

it’s still
something to waste wildly




Already we lay

deep in the scrub
when you came crawling up

We couldn’t
overshadow you
due to
the limits of light





on your leftover moons

sealed with shrapnel
orbiting the rings

This must be the moment
for a true





came to be with you?
the skylark stone
in the crease

No sound
only sharp light
can help
to carry it

Heights swirl
than you

[Paris, 1/7/67]




with reflections
with sky beetles
in the mountain

that death
that you still owe me
I’m bringing it




Green light

on yet another

front wheel distorts
with Coriolis force

darkness answers
to the steering-wheel
your outlined veins
knot themselves up

what you are now subsides sideways
you gain





towards night
your sack full
beams of light
at your fingertips
for the winged
the word





to your mask
lost wax

the eye-
lid opposite's
in length

line and line
smudged grey at last





which threw
us together
breaks us apart

far from the sun
you hum



Creeping weed

you snare
one style of speech

the quisling Aster
buddies up with you

when he who
broke his Lyre
starts speaking to the Staff
everyone else
need not fear



Hateful moons

lie drooling
behind nothing

the clever hopes

blue light now
blue light in bushels

misery flares
in cobbled gutters

a game of pitch and toss
saves face

you stow your altars
inside time




the time-heave
that puzzles out
our worlds

the seagulls suspends
the crab transforms

the ice below us
creaks through
all our names

[Dover – London


Kew Gardens

Here, where
you put yourself back
in my hands
at the ebb tide of the year

where the fears resolve
dissolve in blue



“Celanie: 5 Versions from Paul Celan.” brief 41 (2010): 54-59.


which grows over
the back of the black hand
the way
the footpath towards you
over the bevelled stone
through the land of lost dream

two sand hills
gnawed away by the wind
stand by you

a bog infested with stars
spreads round the pine

the chorus
of planetree stumps
bows to the prayers
against prayer

from treering
I try to build names
you stake them
by wheels of rain

locusts will swarm
out from my beard

in front of the beehive cells
there’s just one



The world

fingers you
question how
rough it is

by the barbed-wire almond
can you feel sure
you’re coming to?

sense the touch of light
on your skin



I see you

in the wrinkled
of the diving whale

you see me
impales itself

the starfish couches
in the foam

someone who’s seen it
all whispers aloud
a mouthful of nothing

cradling nothing




and beyond you
lies your destiny

white-eyed refugee
from a song
sticks to it that helps
you free
your tongue
even at noon
out there




will be something later
that fills itself
with you

From my shattered
I watch my hand
around us both
a circle





Dear Paul,

those tulips, their red, their life, this morning, at 6
a.m., after so few hours of sleep, they were still with
Your poem keeps me company, too.

Thank you, thank you again.
Have a wonderful time in Germany.

– Gisèle Celan-Lestrange’s last letter to Paul Celan
(Paris, 20 March 1970)


the maid’s key on the
chest-of drawers!

Pack the big tartan suitcase
and the big brown suitcase
Leave the coffee & pastries for Harriet
in the kitchen
a bottle of grape juice
Fix the typewriter!
Pack a ream of paper +
1 lined notebook
1 packet of carbon-paper
1 plain notebook

My Basque beret
My summer gloves
please return

the list of people
who’ve telephoned

my leather briefcase
my summer scarf

If you’re going to Moisville, could you please bring back all the
Emily Dickinson collections (especially the French translations)
and the big selection of poems by Supervielle?



“Celanie.” All Together Now: A Digital Bridge for Auckland and Sydney (March-September 2010).


  1. Celan, Paul. Gesammelte Werke in fünf Bänden. Erster Band - Gedichte I: Mohn und Gedächtnis; Von Schwelle zu Schwelle; Sprachgitter; Die Niemandsrose. 1952, 1955, 1959, 1963. Ed. Beda Allemann & Stefan Reichert. 1983. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Verlag, 1986.

  2. Celan, Paul. Gesammelte Werke in fünf Bänden. Zweiter Band - Gedichte II: Atemwende; Fadensonnen; Lichtzwang; Schneepart. 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971. Ed. Beda Allemann & Stefan Reichert. 1983. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Verlag, 1986.

  3. Celan, Paul. Gesammelte Werke in fünf Bänden. Dritter Band - Gedichte III: Der Sand aus den Urnen; Zeitgehöft / Prosa /Reden. 1948, 1976. Ed. Beda Allemann & Stefan Reichert. 1983. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Verlag, 1986.

  4. Celan, Paul. Gesammelte Werke in fünf Bänden. Vierter Band: Übertragungen I - Zweisprachig. Ed. Beda Allemann & Stefan Reichert. 1983. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Verlag, 1986.

  5. Celan, Paul. Gesammelte Werke in fünf Bänden. Fünfter Band: Übertragungen II - Zweisprachig. Ed. Beda Allemann & Stefan Reichert. 1983. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Verlag, 1986.

  6. Celan, Paul. Die Gedichte: Kommentierte Gesamtausgabe in einem Band. Ed. Barbara Weidemann. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2003.

  7. [Correspondence:]

  8. Celan, Paul, & Nelly Sachs. Correspondence. Ed. Barbara Wiedemann. 1993. Trans. Christopher Clark. Introduction by John Felstiner. Riverdale-on-Hudson, New York: The Sheep Meadow Press, 1995.

  9. Celan, Paul, & Gisèle Celan-Lestrange. Correspondance (1951-1970), avec un choix de letters de Paul Celan à son fils Eric. I – Lettres. Ed. Bertrand Badiou & Eric Celan. La Librairie du XXIe siècle. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2001.

  10. Celan, Paul, & Gisèle Celan-Lestrange. Correspondance (1951-1970), avec un choix de letters de Paul Celan à son fils Eric. II – Commentaires et Illustrations. Ed. Bertrand Badiou & Eric Celan. La Librairie du XXIe siècle. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2001.

  11. Bachmann, Ingeborg, & Paul Celan. Correspondence: With the Correspondence between Paul Celan and Max Frisch, and between Ingeborg Bachmann and Gisèle Celan-Lestrange. Ed. Bertrand Badiou, Hans Höller, Andrea Stoll & Barbara Weidemann. 2008. Trans. Wieland Hoban. The German List. London: Seagull Books, 2010.

  12. Gillespie, Susan H., trans. The Correspondence of Paul Celan & Ilana Shmueli. 2004. Preface by John Fesltiner. Introduction by Norman Manea. Afterword by Ilana Shmueli. Conversation between Norman Manea & Ilana Shmueli. Riverdale-on-Hudson, New York: The Sheep Meadow Press, 2010.

  13. [Translations:]

  14. Celan, Paul. Selected Poems. Trans. Michael Hamburger & Christopher Middleton. 1962 & 1967. Introduction by Michael Hamburger. Penguin Modern European Poets. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972.

  15. Celan, Paul. Collected Prose. Trans. Rosmarie Waldrop. 1986. Fyfield Books. Manchester: Carcanet Press Limited, 2003.

  16. Celan, Paul. Selected Poems. Trans. Michael Hamburger. 1988. Penguin International Poets. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1990.

  17. Celan, Paul. Selected Poems and Prose. Trans. John Felstiner. New York & London: W. W. Norton, 2001.

  18. Celan, Paul. Romanian Poems. Trans. Julian Semilian & Sanda Agdidi. Green Integer, 81. København & Los Angeles: Green Integer Books, 2003.

  19. Celan, Paul. Selections. Ed. Pierre Joris. Poets for the Millennium, 3. Trans. Pierre Joris & Jerome Rothenberg. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press / London: University of California Press, Ltd., 2005.

  20. Celan, Paul. The Meridian: Final Version - Drafts - Materials. Ed. Bernhard Boschenstein & Heino Schmull. Trans. Pierre Joris. Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics Series. California: Stanford University Press, 2011.

  21. Celan, Paul. From Threshold to Threshold. ['Von Schwelle zu Schwelle', 1955]. Trans. David Young. Grosse Point Farms, Michigan: Marick Press, 2010.

  22. Celan, Paul. Breathturn. ['Atemwende', 1967]. Trans. Pierre Joris. Sun & Moon Classics, 74. Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1995.

  23. Celan, Paul. Threadsuns. ['Fadensonnen', 1968]. Trans. Pierre Joris. Sun & Moon Classics, 122. Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 2000.

  24. Celan, Paul. Fathomsuns / Fadensonnen and Benighted / Eingedunkelt. 1968. Trans. Ian Fairley. Manchester: Carcanet Press Limited, 2001.

  25. Celan, Paul. Lightduress. ['Lichtzwang', 1970]. Trans. Pierre Joris. Green Integer, 113. København & Los Angeles: Green Integer Books, 2005.

  26. Celan, Paul. Snow Part / Schneepart. 1971. Trans. Ian Fairley. Riverdale-on-Hudson, New York: The Sheep Meadow Press, 2007.

  27. Jack Ross:

  28. (May 1, 2001) The Britney Suite, by Paul Celan, Wendy Nu & Jack Ross. Auckland: Perdrix Press, 2001. [25 copies (20 numbered)]
    • [Paul Celan:] SCHNEEPART, gebäumt, bis zuletzt … (22/1/68)
    • Snowpart (24/10-30/11/2000)
    • [Paul Celan:] ERZFLITTER, tief im … (20/7/68)
    • Orespark (24/10-30/11/2000)
    • [Paul Celan:] KALK-KROKUS, im … (24/8/68)
    • Chalk-Crocus (24/10-28/11/2000)
    • [Paul Celan:] DAS GEDUNKELTE Splitterecho … (5/9/68)
    • Dark (24/10-28/11/2000)
    • [Paul Celan:] BEIDHÄNDIGE Frühe … (29/9/69)
    • Both-Handed (24/10-28/11/2000)

  29. (September 12, 2006) “Poems from Schneepart: Translations into English.” Percutio 1 (2006): 60-62.
    • Snowpart (24/10-30/11/2000)
    • Orespark (24/10-30/11/2000)
    • Chalk-Crocus (24/10-28/11/2000)
    • Dark (24/10-28/11/2000)
    • Both-Handed (24/10-28/11/2000)

  30. (October 4-5, 2008) The Britney Suite. (Ed.) Papyri:
    • [Celan:] SCHNEEPART, gebäumt… (22/1/68)
    • Snowpart (24/10-30/11/2000)
    • [Celan:] ERZFLITTER, tief im … (20/7/68)
    • Orespark (24/10-30/11/2000)
    • [Celan:] KALK-KROKUS, im … (24/8/68)
    • Chalk-Crocus (24/10-28/11/2000)
    • [Celan:] DAS GEDUNKELTE Splitterecho … (5/9/68)
    • Dark (24/10-28/11/2000)
    • [Celan:] BEIDHÄNDIGE Frühe … (29/9/69)
    • Both-Handed (24/10-28/11/2000)

  31. (August 17, 2006) “Coromandel.” The Imaginary Museum (after Paul Celan, 'Corona').

  32. (April 16, 2010) “Project Books.” Mosehouse Studio.
    • Already [30/3/54] (9/3-11/4/10)

  33. (August 24, 2010) “Celanie.” All Together Now: A Digital Bridge for Auckland and Sydney / Kia Kotahi Rā: He Arawhata Ipurangi mō Tamaki Makau Rau me Poihākena (March-September 2010). [visited 25/8/10]
    • Leave [24/6/67] (8/2-25/4/10)

  34. (December 31, 2010) “Celanie: 5 Versions from Paul Celan.” brief 41 (2010): 54-59.
    • Maïa [7/1/52] (9/3-11/4/10)
    • Islandward [22/6/54] (5/3-11/4/10)
    • Matter of Britain [13/8/57] (9/3-29/4/10)
    • Heart (for René Char) [6/1/60] (9/3-11/4/10)
    • Kew Gardens [6/4/69] (11/3-25/4/10)

  35. [Secondary Texts:]

  36. Bruns, Gerald. “Should Poetry be Ethical or Otherwise.” SubStance, Issue 120 (Volume 38, Number 3), 2009, pp. 72-91.

  37. Carson, Anne. Economy of the Unlost: Reading Simonides of Ceos with Paul Celan. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999..

  38. Chalfen, Israel. Paul Celan: A Biography of His Youth. 1979. Trans. Maximilian Bleyleben. Introduction by John Felstiner. New York: Persea Books, 1991.

  39. Coetzee, J. M. “Paul Celan and his Translators.” Inner Workings: Literary Essays 2000-2005. 2007. A Vintage Book. Sydney: Random House Australia, 2008. 114-31.

  40. Daive, Jean. Under the Dome: Walks With Paul Celan. 1996. Trans. Rosmarie Waldrop. Serie d'ecriture, 22. Anyart, Providence: Burning Deck Press, 2009.

  41. Felstiner, John. Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.

  42. James, Clive. “Paul Celan.” Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from Culture and the Arts. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2007. 101-5.

  43. Lyon, James K. Paul Celan and Martin Heidegger: An Unresolved Conversation, 1951-1970. Baltimore, MA: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006.

  44. Ross, Jack. “Meeting Paul Celan.” Poetics of Exile conference paper (Auckland University, July 2003). Available online at The Imaginary Museum (23/3/07).

  45. Ross, Jack. “The Twenty-Year Masterclass: Paul Celan’s Correspondence with Gisèle Celan-Lestrange (1951-1970).” Literature and Translation conference paper (Monash University, 12 July 2011). Available online at Projects (7/6/11).

  46. Ross, Jack. “Collecting Paul Celan.” The Imaginary Museum (3/9/11).

  47. Ross, Jack. “Channeling Paul Celan.” Rabbit 5: The Rare Issue (Winter 2012): 118-31.

  48. Ross, Jack. “Interpreting Paul Celan.” brief 46: The Survival Issue (2012): 85-101.


Pentti Otto Koskinen said...

Thank you for your great "Celanie Poems(2010-12)" translation.

Jack Ross said...

Thanks for your nice comment. Much appreciated.