Further excerpts from Paul Celan’s ‘microliths’

16 He who transforms himself wants, being the same, to become someone else.

Shape = semblance

17  There is no such thing as the Ibolithic, you say! Well, where would we wind up if we agreed with that? For then the Lithic wouldn’t exist either, the basic Lithic, this idiom worked up with such great pains. And Paleo, Mezzo and Neo, so excellent, they too would then be as if extinguished — and — do I dare ask — where in this case would we be at? We, so proud to have managed to put the ice age behind us… Why, I heard it asked — and I hear resentment roiling in that question, yes indeed, resentment! —, Why? Was that necessary? We stand pretty now, we, those of today… Gone, our past, gone… And our future? Our future-bearing future? I’m asking, I’m not answering. Let the others, the anti-iboliths, answers. But, isn’t it so, Rumpelstiltskin, we two, you and I, we want into the Open once again, into the forest, and crossing the swath that leads to the nuclear reactor, and where the honeysuckle, so beguiling, rambles, we, despite the danger of falling into discredit, even here, we want to sing

18                                                                                                                Verbier, 6.25.57.

18.1  We were one flesh with the night.

18.2     In the gaze you throw at it, the looked at awakens.

19                                                                                                                 10.26.57.

Poems are passageways. A toi de passer, Vie!  [Your turn to pass through, Life!]


A paradise was indeed promised us, but to no one among us, not even to the fiercest believers, a vehicle with tail flukes, so as not to remain unnoticed on the roads up there, when the driver chauffeurs us to the confectioner’s.

21               For so much anguish, so much symbolism!

22                                                                                                                  Hermeticism—

Certain “citizens” and the poem: They buy the surprise bag; one knows vaguely what’s in it, it won’t be much, but then it doesn’t cost much either, and if one happens to visit the fair and one has enjoyed the lady without lower- but with upper body, one’s amusement also demands this. And when what’s in it turns out — but here too the buyer’s superior humor can prove itself — to be even cheaper than cheap, there still remains the fun that all of that was “too” /[“zu” “closed”]

23 9.9.59.

…. and sounded off against his God.

these translations are © Pierre Joris

Paul Celan
Extracts from Microliths
translated by Pierre Joris
forthcoming from attem press in 2018
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