Cover image for Selected poems and prose of Paul Celan
Selected poems and prose of Paul Celan
Celan, Paul.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Works. Selections. English & German. 2000
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, [2001 [that is, 2000]

©2001 [that is, 2000]
Physical Description:
xxxvi, 426 pages : facsimiles ; 25 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PT2605.E4 A22 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Paul Celan was born in 1920 in the East European province of Bukovina. Soon after his parents, German-speaking Jews, had perished at the hands of the Nazis, Celan wrote "Todesfuge" ("Deathfugue"), the most compelling poem to emerge from the Holocaust. Self-exiled in Paris, for twenty-five years Celan continued writing in his German mother tongue, although it had "passed through the thousand darknesses of deathbringing speech." His writing purges and remakes that language, often achieving a hope-struck radiance never before seen in modern poetry. But in 1970, his psychic wounds unhealed, Celan drowned himself in the Seine. This landmark volume includes youthful lyrics, unpublished poems, and prose. All poems appear in the original and in translation on facing pages. John Felstiner's translations stem from a twenty-year immersion in Celan's life and work. John Bayley wrote in the New York Review of Books, "Felstiner translates ... brilliantly."

Author Notes

Paul Celan was born in 1920 in Czernowitz, Romania, to Jewish parents, who spoke German in the home. His mother and father were both deported to concentration camps during Nazi occupation and killed. Celan managed to hide for some time and then survived the war in a Romanian detention camp. After the war, he worked for a time as an editor and translator; he went to Paris to lecture on German literature. Celan began to receive recognition as a poet with the publication of his volume Mohn und Gedachtnis (Poppy and Memory) in 1952 and continued to publish steadily until his suicide in 1970.

Divided between conflicting loyalties and cultures, Celan created a unique idiom. Despite the traumatic experience of Nazi occupation, he chose to devote himself to the study of German literature. His poetry is one of the most radical attempts to reconstruct the German language and literature in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Though fluent in a number of languages, Celan (1920-1970), who had come to Paris from Romanian Bukovina, pointedly wrote in German after WWII. His decomposition and recasting of that language, through a style that can seem dizzying in its complex poly-referentiality, was compounded by his erudition, by his own history as a Holocaust survivor whose parents were murdered in the camps, and finally by his suicide. For many, he one of the major poets of the 20th century. Though Celan's work presents obvious difficulties for any translator, his English-language readers have long been well-served by Michael Hamburger's starkly graceful selected translations (Poems of Paul Celan, Persea), which remain the best available, and more recently, by Pierre Joris's acute renderings of Celan's later work. Of the new collections here, the volume from Celan biographer and critic Felstiner is easily the most comprehensive, containing ample cullings from all of Celan's books, including many poems not included in Hamburger's selection, along with previously untranslated early and late work and four prose pieces. Felstiner handles these translations competently, rendering Celan in a somewhat more colloquial style than Hamburger or Joris. But his shifting diction (including "Thou") and his tendency to capitalize nouns and to let German words stand untranslated in the English text can make for a distracting admixture, as it does in Celan's much-anthologized early work, "Deathfugue": "Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night/ we drink you at midday Death is a master aus Deutschland." On the whole, Felstiner's efforts often pale beside those of Hamburger and Joris, but the page count of this dual-language collection will make it the default choice of those who will buy only one Celan volume. Popov and McHugh's collection also ranges over Celan's oeuvre, but far less comprehensively or successfully. Unlike Felstiner and Joris, Popov (The Russian People Speak: Democracy at the Crossroads) and poet McHugh (Father of the Predicaments, etc.) don't present the German texts en face, a practice they regard, in their preface, as a potential distraction from the reader's experience of their renderings. It would indeed be a distraction, making painfully clear just how far they depart from the originals to arrive at their idiosyncratic versions, which alter Celan's precise line and stanza lengths significantly, and forsake Celan's vertiginous difficulties for a more simplisticÄsometimes macabre or wittyÄstyle that's littered with heavy-handed gestures. One poem, for example, contains an ex nihilo insertion gleefully riffing on a German pun, others tip the scales of Celan's carefully weighted pronouns into one viewpoint or another. Even when hewing closer to the source text, Popov and McHugh incessantly heighten the poems' language, degrading their thorniness with more traditional sentiments. Fortunately, many of the poems translated by Popov and McHugh can be found in Joris's new volume, or in his 1995 rendering of Celan's Breathturn, both of which present entire books in razor-sharp, finely nuanced translations. Threadsuns represents the continuation of a marked turn in Celan's poeticsÄaway from lusher effusions to intensely compressed, increasingly stark investigations of language, history and the poet's own capacities. Because much of this later work is serial in nature, Joris's decision to render the books in their entirety is profoundly important, and helps to make them necessary complements to Hamburger's selections. While it may not consistently attain the dazzling heights and depths of Celan's finest work in Breathturn and 1963's The No-One's Rose, Threadsuns contains an abundance of brilliant poems and provides ample evidence for the magnitude of Celan's stature in the last century, and in the one to come. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. xv
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
Prefacep. xix
Early Poems (1940-1943)
Der Tote / The Dead Manp. 2
Finsternis / Darknessp. 4
Notturno / Nocturnep. 6
[Winter] / [Winter]p. 8
Nahe der Graber / Nearness of Gravesp. 10
Der Einsame / The Lonely Onep. 12
Schwarze Flocken / Black Flakesp. 14
Mohn und Gedachtnis (1952) Poppy and Memory
Ein Lied in der Wuste / A Song in the Wildernessp. 18
Espenbaum / Aspen Treep. 20
Der Sand aus den Urnen / The Sand from the Urnsp. 22
Lob der Ferne / Praise of Distancep. 24
Spat und Tief / Late and Deepp. 26
Corona / Coronap. 28
Todesfuge / Deathfuguep. 30
Auf Reisen / On a Journeyp. 34
In Agypten / In Egyptp. 36
Kristall / Crystalp. 38
Die Kruge / The Tankardsp. 40
So bist du denn geworden / So you are turnedp. 42
Der Reisekamerad / The Travel Companionp. 44
Landschaft / Landscapep. 46
Zahle die Mandeln / Count up the almondsp. 48
Von Schwelle zu Schwelle (1955) From Threshold to Threshold
Ich Horte Sagen / I Heard It Saidp. 52
Zu Zweien / By Twosp. 54
Grabschrift fur Francois / Epitaph for Francoisp. 56
Assisi / Assisip. 58
Vor einer Kerze / In Front of a Candlep. 60
Mit Wechselndem Schlussel / With a Changing Keyp. 64
Andenken / Remembrancep. 66
Nachtlich Geschurzt / Nocturnally Pursedp. 68
Welchen der Steine Du Hebst / Whichever Stone You Liftp. 70
In Memoriam Paul Eluard / In Memoriam Paul Eluardp. 72
Schibboleth / Shibbolethp. 74
Sprich Auch Du / Speak You Toop. 76
Argumentum e Silentio / Argumentum e Silentiop. 78
Die Winzer / The Vintagersp. 82
Inselhin / Islandwardp. 84
Sprachgitter (1959) Speech-Grille
Stimmen / Voicesp. 88
Zuversicht / Confidencep. 94
Mit Brief und Uhr / With Letter and Clockp. 96
Unter ein Bild / Below a Paintingp. 98
Schliere / Streakp. 100
Tenebrae / Tenebraep. 102
Blume / Flowerp. 104
Sprachgitter / Speech-Grillep. 106
Matiere de Bretagne / Matiere de Bretagnep. 108
Koln, am Hof / Cologne, at the Stationp. 110
In die Ferne / Into the Distancep. 112
Entwurf einer Landschaft / Sketch of a Landscapep. 114
Ein Auge, Offen / An Eye, Openp. 116
Engfuhrung / Strettop. 118
Die Niemandsrose (1963) the No-One's-Rose
Es war Erde in ihnen / There was earth inside themp. 134
Das Wort vom Zur-Tiefe-Gehn / The word about going-to-the-depthsp. 136
Bei Wein und Verlorenheit / With wine and lostnessp. 138
Zurich, Zum Storchen / Zurich, at the Storkp. 140
Selbdritt, Selbviert / By Threes, by Foursp. 142
Dein Hinubersein / Your being over therep. 144
Zwolf Jahre / Twelve Yearsp. 146
Mit allen Gedanken / With all my thoughtsp. 148
Die Schleuse / The Sluicep. 150
Stumme Herbstgeruche / Mute autumn smellsp. 152
Eis, Eden / Ice, Edenp. 154
Psalm / Psalmp. 156
Tubingen, Janner / Tubingen, Januaryp. 158
Eine Gauner- und Ganovenweise / A Rogues' and Gonifs' Dittyp. 160
... Rauscht der Brunnen / ... The Wellspring Rushesp. 164
Radix, Matrix / Radix, Matrixp. 166
Einem, der vor der Tur stand / To one who stood before the doorp. 170
Mandorla / Mandorlap. 172
Benedicta / Benedictap. 174
Die hellen Steine / The bright stonesp. 176
Ein Wurfholz / A boomerangp. 178
Hawdalah / Havdalahp. 180
Nachmittag mit Zirkus und Zitadelle / Afternoon with Circus and Citadelp. 182
Ich habe Bambus geschnitten / I have cut bamboop. 184
Was geschah? / What happened?p. 186
In Eins / In Onep. 188
Hinausgekront / Crowned outp. 190
Wohin mir / Where the wordp. 194
Huttenfenster / Tabernacle Windowp. 196
Die Silbe Schmerz / The Syllable Painp. 200
Es ist alles anders / It's all differentp. 204
In der Luft / In the airp. 210
Atemwende (1967) Breathturn
Du darfst / You mayp. 222
In die Rillen / Into the groovesp. 224
In den Flussen / In riversp. 226
Die Zahlen / The numbersp. 228
Weissgrau / Whitegrayp. 230
Mit erdwarts gesungenen Masten / With masts sung earthwardp. 232
Schlafenzange / Temple-pincersp. 234
Stehen / To standp. 236
Mit den Verfolgten / With the persecutedp. 238
Fadensonnen / Threadsunsp. 240
Im Schlangenwagen / In the reptile-carp. 242
Ich kenne dich / I know youp. 244
Weggebeizt / Etched awayp. 246
Vom grossen / Scoopedp. 248
Keine Sandkunst mehr / No more sand artp. 250
Hohles Lebensgehoft / Hollow homestead of lifep. 252
Schwarz / Blackp. 254
Landschaft / Landscapep. 256
In Prag / In Praguep. 258
Aschenglorie / Ash-aureolep. 260
Das Geschriebene / What's writtenp. 262
Wo? / Where?p. 264
Konigswut / King's ragep. 266
Solve / Solvep. 268
Coagula / Coagulap. 270
Osterqualm / Paschal smokep. 272
Schaufaden, Sinnfaden / Show-fringes, sense-fringesp. 274
Ein Drohnen / A rumblingp. 276
Schlickende / Oozingp. 278
Einmal / Oncep. 280
Fadensonnen (1968) Threadsuns
Frankfurt, September / Frankfurt, Septemberp. 284
Die Spur eines Bisses / The trace of a bitep. 286
All deine Siegel erbrochen? Nie. / All your seals broken? Neverp. 288
Schlafbrocken / Sleepscrapsp. 290
Die fleissigen / Industriousp. 292
Wenn ich nicht weiss, nicht weiss / When I don't know, don't knowp. 294
Du warst / You werep. 296
Tau / Dewp. 298
Uppige Durchsage / Profuse announcementp. 300
Nah, im Aortenbogen / Near, in the aorta's archp. 302
Weil du den Notscherben fandst / Because you found the trouble-shardp. 304
Denk Dir / Just Thinkp. 306
Lichtzwang (1970) Light-Compulsion
Horreste, Sehreste / Remnants of hearing, of seeingp. 310
Wir lagen / We layp. 312
Todtnauberg / Todtnaubergp. 314
Klopf / Knockp. 316
Fahlstimmig / Wan-voicedp. 318
Schaltjahrhunderte / Leap-centuriesp. 320
Du sei wie du / You be like youp. 322
Wirk nicht voraus / Do not work aheadp. 324
Schneepart (1971) Snow-Part
Du liegst / You liep. 328
Das angebrochene Jahr / The broached yearp. 330
Unlesbarkeit / Illegiblep. 332
Ich hore, die Axt hat gebluht / I hear, the axe has floweredp. 334
Die nachzustotternde Welt / World to be stuttered afterp. 336
Zur Nachtordnung / To night's orderp. 338
Fur Eric / For Ericp. 340
Ein Blatt / A leafp. 342
Einkanter / In-edgerp. 344
Leuchtstabe / Flashlightsp. 346
Zeitgehoft (1976) Homestead of Time
Wanderstaude / Wanderbushp. 350
Mandelnde / Almonding onep. 352
Es stand / There stoodp. 354
Die Glut / The heatp. 356
Das Leuchten / That shiningp. 358
Die Posaunenstelle / The shofar placep. 360
Die Pole / The polesp. 362
Der Konigsweg / The king's wayp. 364
Ich trink Wein / I drink winep. 366
Es wird / There willp. 368
Das Nichts / Nothingnessp. 370
Umlichtet / Clearlitp. 372
Krokus / Crocusp. 374
Rebleute / Vinegrowersp. 376
Uncollected Poems
Wolfsbohne / Wolfsbeanp. 380
Full die Odnis / Pour the wastelandp. 386
Schreib dich nicht / Don't write yourselfp. 388
Gedichtzu, gedichtauf / Poem-closed, poem-openp. 390
Ansprache anlasslich der Entgegennahme des Literaturpreises der Freien Hansestadt Bremen (1958) / Speech on the Occasion of Receiving the Literature Prize of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremenp. 395
Gesprach im Gebirg (1960) / Conversation in the Mountainsp. 397
Der Meridian. Rede anlasslich der Verleihung des Georg-Buchner-Preises (1961) / The Meridian. Speech on the Occasion of the Award of the Georg Buchner Prizep. 401
Ansprache vor dem hebraischen Schriftstellerverband (1970) / Speech to the Hebrew Writers Associationp. 414
Notesp. 415
English Index of Titles and First Linesp. 421
German Index of Titles and First Linesp. 424