EARISH is reprinted from a privately printed book containing my homeophonic translations of thirty poems by Paul Celan.  Homeophony = sounds like.  The implication of the title is that one listens to the original other-language poem until one hears the sounds of it as somehow one’s own.  I have played with this on and off since parodying Horace when I was in college, but worked with it seriously only in recent years. The obvious authority comes from Louis Zukofsky’s wonderful hearings of all the poems of Catullus. Yet LZ’s design included giving a more or less ‘real’ translation of the Latin texts while preserving/renewing some sense of the Latin’s sound.  My purpose (here and elsewhere, notably my workings with Hölderlin)  is quite different.  I am setting at naught whatever I may think or even know the original poem ‘means,’ and instead using just the sounds of it (as it sounds in my ears) to batter some sense into my head.  Its new meaning. 

 

The title EARISH clearly says the name of the language we’ll be reading in the book.  But it also ‘translates’ the Celan poem “Irisch” (=Irish), one of the critical poems in any reading of Celan. (And that small poem was itself translated in many versions, mostly into English,  by many poets in Finlay’s two small volumes dedicated just to the poem.)

 

Note that in this online version of EARISH, the little key numbers referring to the German book and page source of each poem seem to appear before the title of the poem – but in fact they refer in every case to the preceding poem.

 

 

EARISH

 

 

 

 

THIRTY POEMS OF PAUL CELAN

 

 

 

 

TRANSLATED BY ROBERT KELLY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MATTER BOOKS

ANNANDALE   2006

for Dick Higgins,

                                      in memor I am

         

[First version completed 23 March 2002.  Revised Winter 2005/ 2006]

Translator’s Note: 

In 2002 I was asked to contribute to Alec Finlay’s edition of translations by several hands of Paul Celan’s poem “Irisch.”  While working on my translation (which duly appeared in the second volume, Irish (2), Edinburgh 2002), I began to work on other dimensions of the poem, then of other Celan poems.  The present homeophonic translations are one result.  By homeophonic translation I mean:  listening to the sound of the [in this case German] poem until you can hear it as English – the result, the poem heard, no doubt ‘says’ a ‘different’ thing from the ‘original.’  Those quoted words are all questionable, more question than answer, I mean.  So here are some of my hearings of Celan poems. They are, in effect, translations into Earish.

          A reference in italics at the foot of the page identifies the book in which appears the German original text here heard heading towards English:

 

at  =  Atemwende

f  =  Fadensonnen

licht =  Lichtzwang

schn = Schneepart

zeit = Zeitgehöft

 

(This edition is not for sale, and is for private distribution only.)


 

 

WILD YOU THEN NOTE SHARING FONDEST

in the view’s tongue

rune the shattered yards hounded a neighbor to rouse

and hay run thick – thank him

 

Feel like it’s a war,

dash here the freed of twice failed curb’s rock

out tone ― go face them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

f 214


 

THE STREAKER, salt’s washer, clomb

the wiser

grove’s keynote in dismal

gate and knickers off

 

Off the shudder see grass down even

in anchor shot and

naked as number dares

(ant’s willing)

red sail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

f 186


 

EARISH
Give me this vague wreck

heave her the corn’s teacher to die in his laugh

this vague wreck

heave her down laugh’s path

this wreck that his story’s taken on

on hurts hung

more gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

f 184


 

THE TWISTED NINE

gone haggled to hill free

vexed

 

the numb unblue

sets out

 

the glaciermilk cart

the foal vixen again dour

thus swimming the seal

ear her unbearable un-

brandy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

f 96
SPADE.  Unswam eager fetish

buys stitch the sopping foam Christ born,

 

off gay road fun

frost spree kin

hipped from womb shy noon neck,

 

day’s fence star flees off,  where sand rouses,

 

neat even so bring him

the hovel there sign,

 

I need cup lasting, a

deep unafraid walker ―

coaches art one seeks there, over

Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

f 166

 


DO WARS mean death

thick Kant I called them

weary of all it unfeels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

f 142


DARES OUT A SHOCKED HEADED HEARSE

daring she goes feel install earring

 

groves shy mast forty

tiles of

 

milk sweaters

shovel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

f 110


ALL DYING SEAGULLS ARE BROKEN?  NAY.

 

Gay verse ether oak

see, the brief

haughty elf

hoofing took her:

 

that the well, the hornet

fern, the milk

knower, when

the mood she tours clock be awayed,

the clock be dumb mood, weed her,

 

that she nicked oak

then elect throne dear idiot and

speak low, the dottle

for a biter too for

many take a long dying

often.

 

 

 

 

 

f 80


POE KNOCKS

 

The unstirred bleak kite’s if a fawn-high hayrick

dame fear them in

den, she’ll gird a needle key fixed

her n’t a Leah dish

hinter seek here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

f 58

 

 


EYING A HIM HILL tempest

lock in.  Arm

enter knocked it them

or it.

 

The lid’s slack reflex averring

the hip begone

tomorrow’s two for

null.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

f 118


EDGE LOCKED, edge locked.

 

When weary at semester’s veering

blond cats going we to malls

allowing gone to Paris, eye no outgone glued long

 

though arctic is a steer

came again sprung and

under crooned emit on his sighing horn or

under tease to his tease to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

f 174


OFF ENDS, in

harm’s boor, kine

unend lick her shoe reaming ― a

neem

cow in the cloister

been debts why blue ticker to saying, to summon

to some wake shore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

at 168


HERB Linda shone height:

oak the Amish kite stays full of oaken―

door in

a trinket, wash the buildings away half

heaving them wake, then she came in,

door in

her lashed what oak dished out the sprocket

Fortnum’s with a guest too,

the dewy sheen leaves, we

ten tense wires wore the outs louder

hair best and sighed and needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

at 120


STAY IN him, shatter

this wonder moss in the loft

 

firm emend and needs staying.

On her can’t

fur thick

align.

 

Myth all in woe’s door, in room hot

oak own a

sparkler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

at78


WOE?

In them, locker mass in the knot.

 

Imagining all under Sheba

in lonesomest uproar,

in wise hide his shucked knee.

 

Was her nod alone?

neigh in thinky bornstone

shattering to summon ― or came sick

deeper in winter,

fly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

at 194


WAGES IN SHATTERING BREAK

die on hand.

 

House the fear finger fork he

wheel it mere then

first eye inert and say again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

at 68

 


EAR IN AFTER, for gambled her

deepen.

 

Wearish ― ―

 

Noon you, wearish

the ― woeing a blowgunner? ―

ash it rousing,

ease vista thick tube gliding,

like tender growing rich meat

deem thick doors waxen tensile

her under suit virgin build

under men

gone soggy and flaccid and

dank rice unlike

bite her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

at 216


ASH IN GLORY hinder

thine inner shuddered work not eaten

hand and on dry vague.

 

Pontiff’s is iced malts: here,

eye in drop fen

of

them or drunken one ruder blade,

deep

in first eye nor then swore

rushed us off.

 

(Off the sink wrecked an

atom’s isle, damn all’s

higher all’s over.

twitching why shimmer’s coat wearing

the blank

tottering mind to us, her off clomb,

groovish mission dish and in dish.)

 

Ash in

glory hinder

like dry vague

hands in.

 

at 176

HIM ASKING

hide a fall

seek to go

bet each dish off dense incense

they give al-

legiance

shadowing us to myth-leaked tongue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

schn 108


SHH! LEWDER, a smart

slog her nicked in his gazes,

air whoosh dear

the sending of her hymn

wise and down even.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

schn 112
CALL CROCUS, in

hell worth an eye

stick brief griped as

form door to endow door hair,

unspoiled bar,

 

Spring stuff a

lecturing dear to

the Delhi design

hill of tines, a flock

also sick here rose,

 

in the found graven

start seek the mould out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

schn 148
FOR MINE

whether like tin destiny

combed the hand to stay,

myth dare to

dear heave hers oak forest,

 

eye in clearing

hold seek a vista sight

in Christ, and each soak

humans why,

 

monk’s mall frolic

steers the hymnal

uncertain share being

for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

zeit 164
EYE ON STEEPLE FOLD her in

linden rage and kestrel:

 

a sphere dying gazing, eye grows us,

white evil done wrenching,

dizzy us seeing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

zeit 186


EACH DRINK WINE out’s why glazers

unsuck her on

the coy knee’s seizure

Vienna

on bend her,

 

got gift the steam gavel off

as eye on the climbing

erect one,

 

owes the low stream mill failed

underdied.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

zeit 188
UNLICKED AT they came, he

did each in deer

or swarm,

 

fly Garuda art

the known one ― see,

be far on the engine,

 

eye in seeking spoke, horn,

balled each

sore wetter feeling in

forced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

zeit 196
WORD’S AXLE by dense of dancing:

gate to suitor, she leads each on,

by fair shall all of them

earth lick,

 

each here, a fear faring

eye him melts you vex,

dust blows to be wiser, faun

over her, on

unsure word sailing long,

 

it’s why sun’s a gift herd to you,

why,

on each eye know―

you want?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

zeit 198


BACK ON

summer, neckings

the hooks are full

on finger and on light stroll

fear in, then eye an un-

flickering

word’s deer

 

back on

my stair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

licht 18
BILE’S WARMER

heaving us

 

grace breaker

myth, tilling ax tenon thief land―

 

in sail flow or do

myth-dirty

evil name building

half noon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

licht 24

TREAD MEANING of dying, linking

Monday, Saturn.

 

Share bone for sea gull

the unloaf banning doored drowsing

 

Ace missed yet the hour can, bleak sighing

fear eye naked right—

go born.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

licht 10


 

ANGER IMPELLED by faun gone

from eye on the lass:

greened and shore up, shore up and greened.

 

In this laugh’s wretched gain, o eye mill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

licht 14