Forested, bellowed by stags’ roars,the world now besets the wordthat, lingering, seams your lips,annealed by an eked out summer.It lifts it away and you follow it,you follow it and stumble—you feel,that a wind you had trusted so long,bends your arm around the heather:who came from sleepand turned sleepwardmay cradle the enchanted.You cradle it down to the waterswhere the kingfisher’s mirrored,close to the Nowhere of nests.You cradle it down through the firebreak,that deep in treeheat hungers for snow,you cradle it over to the word,that names what of you is already white.
Waldig, von Hirschen georgelt,umdrängt die Welt nun das Wort,das auf den Lippen dir säumt,durchglüht von gefristetem Sommer.Sie hebt es hinweg und du folgst ihm,du folgst ihm und strauchelst – du spürst,wie ein Wind, dem du lange vertrautest,dir den Arm ums Heidekraut biegt:wer schlafher kamund schlafhin sich wandte,darf das Verwunschene wiegen.Du wiegst es hinab zu den Wassern,darin sich der Eisvogel spiegelt,nahe am Nirgends der Nester.Du wiegst es hinab durch die Schneise,die tief in der Baumglut nach Schnee giert,du wiegst es hinüber zum Wort,das dort nennt, was schon weiß ist an dir.
“Forested” from MEMORY ROSE INTO THRESHOLD SPEECH: THE COLLECTED EARLIER POETRY BILINGUAL EDITION by Paul Celan, translated by Pierre Joris.
Translation, Introduction, and Commentary © 2020 by Pierre Joris.
Used/Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Paul Celan was born in Czernowitz, Bukovina, in 1920, and is considered by many to be the greatest German-language poet of the second half of the twentieth century. He survived the Holocaust and settled in Paris in 1948, where he lived and wrote until his suicide in 1970. His collections include Poppy and Memory and Homestead of Time, but he is best known for his poem “Todesfuge” (“Death Fugue”).
Pierre Joris has moved between Europe, the US & North Africa for some 55 years now, publishing over 80 books of poetry, essays, translations and anthologies — most recently Fox-trails, -tales & -trots (poems & proses, Black Fountain Press); the translations Memory Rose into Threshold Speech: The Collected Earlier Poetry of Paul Celan (FSG) & Microliths: Posthumous Prose of Paul Celan (Contra Mundum Press). In 2020 he also published A City Full of Voices: Essays on the Work of Robert Kelly (co-edited with Peter Cockelbergh & Joel Newberger, CMP), & earlier: Arabia (not so) Deserta (Essays, Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2019), Conversations in the Pyrenees with Adonis (CMP 2018), and The Book of U (poems, with Nicole Peyrafitte, Editions Simoncini 2017). When not on the road, he lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with his wife, multimedia praticienne Nicole Peyrafitte.
Memory Rose into Threshold Speech gathers the poet Paul Celan's first four books, written between 1952 and 1963, which established his reputation as the major post-World War II German-language poet.
"For half a century Pierre Joris has been living with the poetry of Paul Celan. With the publication of Breathturn into Timestead and Memory Rose into Threshold Speech his life's task is completed: a rendering into English of the entire German oeuvre of one of the great poetic presences of the twentieth century. Joris's translations are supple, lively, and as close as we will ever get to the sense of a body of poetry that continually challenges the boundaries of language."
—J. M. Coetzee, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature