Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Poetry Thursday: Count Up The Almonds

I first heard this poem at an Arts event in college, and was so intrigued I began reading more of Paul Celan's poetry. As it turns out, it was he who fascinated me. He was a German-Romanian Jew who survived imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp. His poetry is deeply defined by his parents' deaths during the holocaust. He once wrote "poetry is a sort of homecoming", and as I read more of his work it felt so deeply personal I felt like I was intruding by reading it. This is one of my favorite poems of his and the poem that introduced me to his work.

Count Up The Almonds (Zahle die Mandeln)
by Paul Celan

Count up the almonds,
count what was bitter and kept you waking,
count me in too:

I sought your eye when you looked out and no one saw you,
I spun that secret thread
where the dew you mused on
slid down to pitchers
tended by a word that reached no one's heart.

There you first fully entered the name that is yours,
you stepped toward yourself on steady feet,
the hammers swung free in the belfry of your silence,
things overheard thrust through to you,
what's dead put its arm around you too,
and the three of you walked through the evening.

Render me bitter.
Number me among the almonds.

Translation © 2001 by John Felstiner.


At 5:15 AM, Blogger megg said...

I'll have to read that one again and sit with it awhile to really understand it. Thank you for sharing it!!


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