Paul Celan

(23 November 1920 - 20 April 1970 / (Cernăuţi, Bukovin) Chernivtsi, Ukraine)

Psalm - Poem by Paul Celan

No-man kneads us again out of Earth and Loam,
no-man spirits our Dust.
No-man.

Praise to you, No-man.
For love of you
we will flower.
Moving
towards you.

A Nothing
we were, we are, we shall
be still, flowering:
the Nothing-, the
No-man’s-rose.

With
our Pistil soul-bright,
our Stamen heaven-torn,
our Corolla red
with the Violet-Word that we sang
over, O over
the thorn.


Comments about Psalm by Paul Celan

  • Gold Star - 30,322 Points Fabrizio Frosini (5/20/2015 9:18:00 AM)

    And here is the 'finale' from Goodrich:

    '' in order to experience the poetics of Paul Celan as rendered in English, one must understand that no one translation will ever be adequate enough. Though each translator successfully identifies elements of Celan’s discomfort, no single one fully encompasses all three.
    A reader wishing to fully intake Celan’s words in English must become a comparative reader, a critical reader, and most importantly a reader
    who understands that perhaps one of Celan’s most discomforting elements is that he didn’t always wish to be understood. ''

    [Goodrich, J., Rhyme or Reason? : Successfully Translating the Poetry of Paul Celan,2008]


    I have reported her words because I wish to amend my first [not fair] comment about Hamburger’s translation. Everyone (in primis myself) has to understand how difficult a task translating a poem is.

    Celan himself claimed that ''only in the mother tongue can one speak his own truth... in a foreign tongue the poet lies'' (Chalfen I., quoted from a conversation with Ruth Lackner,1947) . (Report) Reply

    19 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Gold Star - 30,322 Points Fabrizio Frosini (5/20/2015 7:09:00 AM)

    Here is the translation by John Felstiner (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.,2001) :

    PSALM

    No one kneads us again out of earth and clay,
    no one incants our dust.
    No one.

    Blessèd 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.

    With
    our pistil soul-bright,
    our stamen heaven-waste,
    our corona red
    from the purpleword we sang
    over, O over
    the thorn. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 30,322 Points Fabrizio Frosini (5/20/2015 7:07:00 AM)

    Celan uses a word in his ''Psalm'' that ultimately varies with translations. In ''Niemand knetet uns wieder aus Erde und Lehm'' Felstiner and Hamburger translate the word ''knetet'' differently.

    Felstiner sticks to the more denotative definition of 'kneten': to knead or to pound. He translates that ''No one kneads us again out of earth and clay'', where 'kneads' suggests that 'no one' shows no sign of concern or affinity for the subject ''us''. Kneading is an act of haphazard physical force, with no careful measures taken to truly appreciate the earth and clay from which the ''us'' takes form.

    Hamburger, however, translates 'knetet' as 'moulds' and writes 'No one moulds us again out of earth and clay.'. Though 'moulds' and 'kneads' don’t seem to differ greatly in meaning on the surface, Hamburger’s moulds lends familiarity and suggests a personal connection to, paradoxically, ''no one''. Much as a potter would dedicate himself to molding a unique piece of clay, a sense of creation and production is implied with 'moulds', and the care taken in the process of molding undoubtedly inspires pride and ownership. Continuing beyond the first line of the poem, this translation instills a feeling of failed recreation or rebirth from the very beginning.
    If success comes with discomfort, then the discomfort lies in Hamburger’s ''moulds'' and the contradictory familiarity created in the
    opening line and the overwhelming apathy created later. It makes too much sense that the ''No One'' would give little concern to kneading a dusty piece of clay in Felstiner’s translation. Hamburger uses the act of molding to connect ''no one'' to ''us'' only to widen a gap of desperate acceptance between them later in the poem.

    [Goodrich, J., Rhyme or Reason? : Successfully Translating the Poetry of Paul Celan,2008] (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 30,322 Points Fabrizio Frosini (5/20/2015 5:21:00 AM)

    '' Rich in historical and religious references, Celan’s Psalm philosophically questions the meaning of human suffering without
    explicitly mentioning the Holocaust. '' (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 30,322 Points Fabrizio Frosini (4/21/2015 5:19:00 AM)

    and here is the original German text.. it's great!

    PSALM


    Niemand knetet uns wieder aus Erde und Lehm,
    niemand bespricht unsern Staub.
    Niemand.

    Gelobt seist du, Niemand.
    Dir zulieb wollen
    wir blühn.
    Dir
    entgegen.

    Ein Nichts
    waren wir, sind wir, werden
    wir bleiben, blühend:
    die Nichts-, die
    Niemandsrose.

    Mit
    dem Griffel seelenhell,
    dem Staubfaden himmelswüst,
    der Krone rot
    vom Purpurwort, das wir sangen
    über, o über
    dem Dorn. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 30,322 Points Fabrizio Frosini (4/21/2015 5:16:00 AM)

    who was the translator from the original German text? : (

    This is a much better translation [by John Felstiner -W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.,2001]:

    No one kneads us again out of earth and clay,
    no one incants our dust.
    No one.

    Blessèd 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.

    With
    our pistil soul-bright,
    our stamen heaven-waste,
    our corona red
    from the purpleword we sang
    over, O over
    the thorn. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 16,965 Points * Sunprincess * (6/21/2014 3:36:00 PM)

    ............out of earth and loam is a good thought....although I must look up the word loam....enjoyed... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 46 Points Miroslava Odalovic (6/21/2013 10:42:00 AM)

    I am so happy to see the master of words listed in the poems of the day section. Even though I would have expected a somewhat more representative lines such as those of The Death Fugue. Still good to stop by and focus on his genius. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Tim Stensloff (6/21/2012 11:32:00 AM)

    Very vivid and simple and excellent and all things. (Report) Reply

Read all 9 comments »



Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: flower, rose, red, heaven, love



Poem Submitted: Saturday, January 25, 2003

Poem Edited: Wednesday, November 23, 2011


[Hata Bildir]