Paul Celan

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

Vinegrowers - Poem by Paul Celan

Vinegrowers dig up dig
under the darkhoured watch,
depth for depth,

you read,
the invisible
one commands the wind
to stay in bounds,

you read,

the Open Ones carry
the stone behind the eye,
it recognizes you,
on a Sabbath.

TRANSLATED BY PIERRE JORIS


Comments about Vinegrowers by Paul Celan

  • Fabrizio Frosini (12/11/2015 12:28:00 PM)


    you read,
    the invisible
    one commands the wind
    to stay in bounds

    Everything shifts with “you read.” You just read that vinegrowers dig in the dark, randomly piling in the name of making an effort. Your reading resulted in you imagining a scene. With the author, you have created.

    That strange thought leads to the next scene, where “the invisible one commands the wind to stay in bounds.” Prior to the garden, the word was present at Creation, governing it. The invisible logos commands the invisible “to stay in bounds, ” to accept restriction and allow for differentiation.

    Things actually are; this is a real world we live in. But our access to it is curious. Images are created, images which present forms which, in turn, seem to generate or define the beings around us. “Seem” is the operative word. Just as the poet digs, looking for the right words, ones which never quite match his object, the vinegrowers are all of us, not quite knowing what we’re doing. Only God matches the act of creating with a specific object. There are, for the rest of us, degrees of not knowing exactly what one is doing.

    Those degrees mean that “the invisible one commands the wind to stay in bounds” has a special significance for the poet, the one thinking aloud through this problem. He’s a vinegrower too, but he knows what light can do. The last stanza:

    you read,

    the Open Ones carry
    the stone behind the eye,
    it recognizes you,
    on a Sabbath

    Once again, “you read.” The invisible power restricting the winds before? That was a myth you read, imagined, gave life to. It was not without consequence, though. “The Open Ones carry the stone behind the eye.” The invisible meanings from before led to a species of openness – you asked questions – and the very thing blocking your eye, forcing your reading to be a pipeline to your imagination only, has now moved behind the eye. It isn’t gone; it did not dissolve. When we truly learn, we remember how we learned. Understanding falsity is the path to knowledge. Yet we are not in control, not in the least: “it recognizes you.” True knowledge is a revelation of sorts, as we are remade and at rest in the world.
    (Ashok)
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  • Fabrizio Frosini (12/11/2015 12:19:00 PM)


    “Vinegrowers” is Celan’s last poem. Celan killed himself, and one might expect to find darkness attendant upon this lyric. Instead, we encounter a cryptic comment on Creation.

    (Ashok)
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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 1, 2015



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