Prose from Poetry Magazine

From “Microliths”

Translated by Pierre Joris

Aesthetics thus demands hiddenness and rewards it, ethics demands disclosure and punishes hiddenness.

True poetry is antibiographical. The poet’s homeland is his poem and changes from one poem to the next. The distances are the old, eternal ones: infinite like the cosmos, in which each poem attempts to assert itself as a — minuscule — star. Infinite also like the distance between one’s I and one’s You: from both sides, from both poles the bridge is built: in the middle, halfway, where the carrier pylon is expected, 
from above or from below, there is the place of the poem. From above: invisible and uncertain. From below: from the abyss of hope for the distant, the future-distant kin.

Poems are paradoxes. Paradoxical is the rhyme, that gathers sense and sense, sense and countersense: a chance meeting at a place in language-time nobody can foresee, it lets this word coincide with that other one — for how long? For a limited time: the poet, who wants to stay true to that principle of freedom that announces itself in the rhyme, now has to turn his back to the rhyme. Away from the border — or across it, off into the borderless!

“Automatic” poetry: unconscious, and it too thus reminiscence — and thus why not quote the brought-along, impregnated as it is with the spiritual, and therefore also points more clearly towards the spiritual. — 

Process, event in the poem

descriptions — static
hence no actual “theme” possible.

prose line to the end
poem line — 
the omitted
man remains an interlocutor though you have to know how to 
captivate him

if from naturalism or through it there is a way to lyric poetry — 

Not Rilkean enjambment!!

He who catching his breath between two lines of poetry looks around for comma or conjunction, misses out.

also pre-membering, pre-thinking and storing of what could be

Yeats: I certainly owe more to that poet than to Fr. surreal.

Strange. In front of a candle
Now I tried to render visible the grain of sand (Buber, Chass. — //Nibelungens[on]g) that had to have been sunk into me too at some time.
Mother, candles, sabbath
But the poem lead me out of this idea, across to a new level with this idea

It is part of poetry’s essential features that it releases the poet, its crown witness and confidant, from their shared knowledge once it has taken on form. (If it were different, there would barely be a poet who could take on the responsibility of having written more than one poem.)

 — Poetry as event
Event = truth (“unhiddenness,” worked, fought for unhiddenness)
Poetry as risk
    Creation = / power-activity / Gewalt-tätigkeit (Heidegger)
Truth ≠ accuracy (-i-: consistency)

Endnote: Poetry “a shrine with no temple”
                                                <Heidegger: Hölderlin>

It belongs to the poem’s essence, that it will release the author, the confidant from its confidence. If it were different, no poet would write more than one poem.

The conjunction of the words in the poem: not only a conjunction, also a confrontation. Also a toward-each-other and an away-from-each-other. Encounter, dissent, and leave-taking all in one.

-i- Receptivity as core attitude when writing poetry — 

Poetry doesn’t stand so much in a relation to time, but to a given world era — 

— in each first word of a poem the whole of  language gathers itself —
— handiwork: hand / think through connections
                                              such as “hand and heart”
                                              handiwork — heartwork

Beginning: “Poetry as handiwork”? The handmade crafting of  poetry?

Does making poetry have any kind of duration? And in what relation to time, to one’s lifetime does such duration stand?

Recollection: How I recited the first poems (Schiller)


-i-                  from                     the       experiences     of    the author

The word in the poem is only partially occupied by experience; another part the poem occupies with experiences; a further part 
remains free, i.e. occupiable

Poetry and the poet’s craft: two realms, I believe, different from each other, even though bordering on each other, and of which the second can be considered as the foothills of the first. Because the poem can never be the result of the mastery of the given poet, no matter how great and proven this mastery may be. The idea that the poet is before all a master of his language, may come closest to the reality of the poetic, while only laying open one of the access points. Because the language of poetry is also always already the other language, the first word of which pulls the poet into a new language-occurrence, to which he entrusts himself more or less unconsciously. Even the most intense introspection does not permit a remainderless overview of this occurrence — and thus puts the concept of overviewable experiences into question. Possibly in such a way that the poem puts up with the shared cognizance of the one who “produces” it only as long as is necessary for its coming into existence. For each poem necessarily claims uniqueness, unrepeatability; in each poem reality is checkmated once and for all, the whole of reality is constricted to a hand’s width of earth, and in this — royal! — constriction that is not only of space but also of time, it is given the chance to assert itself in the face-to-face with the poetic word (in which moreover all of 
language, i.e. language as possibility and as questionability, is simultaneously contained). No poet who would not again be released from this uniqueness would ever dare to write a second poem.

Poetry: Incursions of  language into the daily.
              In our polychrome, not color-happy dailiness,
              the language of  the poem, if it wants to remain the language of
              the p., will by necessity be gray.

Thank and think have the same origin.

Because to speak, to speak like one’s mother, means to dwell, even there where there are no tents.

Poems are porous constructs: here life flows and seeps in and out, incalculably strong-headed, recognizable and in the most foreign shape.

While translating: the capitulation of the “counter-text”

The poem is monotone
“Nobody becomes what he is not”

Representativeness, of whatever order, I cannot arrogate for myself; I am a Jew and a German-language author.

But experience and, from afar, fate, together with a need for 
responsibility and solidarity, are what guide this pen

Poésie, affaire d’abîme / Poetry, a matter of the abyss
              — 12.21.66.

La poésie déjoue l’image / Poetry foils the image

The poet: always in partibus infidelium

I do not speak of the “modern” poem, I speak of the poem today. And to the essential aspects of this today — my today, for I do speak on my own behalf — belongs its lack of a future: I cannot keep from you that I do not know how to answer the question toward which morrow the poem is moving; if the poem borders on such a morrow, then it possesses darkness. The poem’s hour of birth, ladies and gentlemen, lies in darkness. Some claim to know that it is the darkness just before dawn; I do not share this assumption.

Translated from the German

Originally Published: December 29th, 2016

Paul Celan was born Paul Antschel in Czernovitz, Romania, to a German-speaking Jewish family. His surname was later spelled Ancel, and he eventually adopted the anagram Celan as his pen name. In 1938 Celan went to Paris to study medicine, but returned to Romania before the outbreak of World War...

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