Arnon Grunberg



Yesterday I received the collected works by Paul Celan in a new Dutch edition.

I read Celan first when I was twenty or twenty-one, actually I remember reading Celan’s poems in de Van Eeghenstraat in Amsterdam on a balmy summer day. The poem ‘Psalm’ is as impressive and unsettling now as it was then.

A quote from one of Celan’s letters to Ingeborg Bachmann in the afterword made me want to read the letters between Bachmann and Celan again. He writes her that Paris is his prison, and that he had made the city blossom with his wounds.

In John Felstiner’s translation:

‘No one kneads us again out of earth and clay
no-One summons our dust.
No one.

Blessed art thou, No One.
In thy sight would
we bloom.
In thy
spite .

A nothing
we were, are now, and ever
shall be, blooming:
the nothing-,
the No-One’s- Rose.

our pistil soul-bright,
our stamen heaven-waste,
our corona red
from the purpleword we sang
over, oh over
the thorn.’