Monday, February 12, 2007

Place on the lids of the dead man that word

Pont Mirabeau, the site of Celan's suicide.
Photo by Thomas Kirchhoff

When a Czech Stalinist tribunal in 1950 condemned Zavis Kalandra, a surrealist poet and survivor of Hitler's camps, Andre Breton urged Eluard to intercede for the comrade they had both known. Eluard solemnly refused, and Kalandra was hanged. Against this background, Celan's liturgic lines for a writer he valued, "In Memoriam Paul Eluard," bind poetry to solidarity and death:

Place in his grave for the dead man the words
he spoke so as to live...

Place on the lids of the dead man that word
he denied to the one
who said thou to him...

- From Paul Celan - Poet, Survivor, Jew by John Felstiner

Celan's grave site at "Cemetiere parisien de Thias," 31st division
Photo by Thomas Kirchhoff

Kirchoff's Celan photographs are simply stunning. Those stones on Celan's grave...

Photos of Paris places important to Paul Celan's life: Photos by Thomas Kirchhoff
American Poetry Review: John Felstiner excerpt from "The One and Only Circle": Translating Celan
Art Inspired by Celan

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