‘Translation at the Mountain of Death’, Pierre Joris writes on Celan and Heidegger.


Arnica, eyebright, the
draught from the well with the
star dice above,

in the

in the book
(whose name is recorded
before mine?)
the written line
in the book
speaks of hope, today,
about a thinker
in the heart,

forest grass, unlevelled,
orchid and orchid, separate,

crude things, later, in passing,

he who drives us, the man,
he who overhears,

the half-
trodden beaten
paths in the high moor,


Now that the prayer benches burn,
I eat the book
with all its

translation, Pierre Joris

In Heidegger’s Germany there’s no Place for Paul Celan 

There is a lot to ponder upon in the essay Translation at the mountain of deathin terms of dramatis personae and created image, so I am linking it here as part of the PH Translation and Linguistics series. The link is from Nomadics Joris’ early online blog, which is also linked in Manifesto beneath the Todtnauberg essay.

Whilst searching out the Nomadics links (Pierre Joris is currently writing Homad) I found his link regarding the creation of the Nomadics Manifesto, which is also of interest in terms of Outsider Poetry. Those readers interested in the areas of Nomadics and Outsider Poetry should continue their reading at the  P. Joris Homad site.

Excerpt from Joris’ essay here :

“Celan, like many other poets, is concerned with thought, with philosophy, and in his work we find, as Pöggeler puts it, Auseinander-setzungen with a variety of philosophers and thinkers: with Democritus in the poem “Engführung”; with Spinoza in the poems “Pau, nachts,” and “Pau,  später” ; or with Adorno in his  single prose work, Gespräch im Gebirg. It is therefore not surprising to find Celan concerned with the figure of Martin Heidegger. This concern is ambivalent, to say the least, involving both attraction and repulsion. Pöggeler reminds us that as far back as 1957, Celan had wanted to send his poem “Schliere” to Heidegger, but also, that, when  somewhat later Heidegger had his famous meeting with Martin Buber in Münich, Celan felt very uneasy and was not ready to give Heidegger a “Persilschein”, a “Persil-passport” i.e. did not want to whitewash the politically compromised philosopher. Celan, at that time, was reading Heidegger’s Nietzsche as well as Nietzsche himself, and seems to have thought highly of Heidegger’s interpretations. Nietzsche’s thought is also, albeit liminally, present in Celan’s poetry, for example in “Engführung,”  where the line “Ein Rad, langsam, rollt aus sich selbst”, is a formula used by Nietzsche in the chapter “Von den 3 Verwandlungen” in Zarathustra. Heidegger himself was intermittently interested in  Celan’s work and came, whenever possible, to the rare public readings Celan gave in Germany.

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