The Plashes

that can be groped towards with antenna
words, on the ridge of

Your face quietly shies
when suddenly
there is lamplike brightness
inside me, just at the point
where most painfully one says, never.
– Paul Celan

I have to admit to enjoying my status as an autodidact. Something about the aimless blind wandering through art, history, science, and whatever else, appeals to me. As I slowly become more formally “educated” I sometimes think of this intellectual freedom to go wherever I will as a waning loss.

I picked up this book of poetry, Poems of Paul Celan translated by Micheal Hamburger, for no good educational or pretentious reason. I am ignorant. I liked the cover, the look of the man, the stark arrangement of words. I also enjoy saying the poems to myself in the native language provided on each even page. Something about the German language delights me.

Look around:
look how it all leaps alive –
where death is! Alive!
He speaks truly who speaks the shade.


I am continually in awe of the translator. I love to look at different versions of translated poetry. I can not know what the original language suggests, but I can know what the translator’s effect is on me. What a wonderful endeavor. The elasticity of words pinned to a wall of absolute sentiment. A sentence may not affect you as it affects me, but between the author and I- when I feel the full force of our meaning- I am overwhelmed.


 You prayer-, you blasphemy-, you
prayer-sharp knives
of my silence.

You my words being crippled
together with me, you
my hale ones.

And you:
you, you, you
my later of roses
daily worn true and
more true -:

How much, O how much
world. How many paths.

You crutch, you wing. We–

We shall sing the nursery rhyme, that one,
do you hear, that one
with the hu, with the man, with the human being, the one
with the scrub and with
the pair of eyes that lay ready there as
tear- upon-


3 responses to “The Plashes

  1. Autodidacts should be ruling the world. We are far more interesting because we are so free to learn, cheers!

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