Friday, May 29, 2015

Celan, Paul - through the thousand darknesses of murderous speech

Celan, Paul was not a happy man. Perhaps that's why he was such a successful poet. He was a Romanian poet and lived 1920 to 1970. Britannica says he was largely inspired by the French surrealists of his time.

He was sent to a forced labor camp in WWII. His parents were sent to an internment camp where they both died. Britannica says his parents were murdered, but wikipedia indicates that his father probably died of typhus while his mother was shot after being exhausted while performing forced labor.

After being freed by the Red Army, he moved to Paris. Over the course of his life he wrote 9 volumes of (German) poetry. His poetry has been translated into English by various authors.

Wikipedia quotes him as saying about language:
Only one thing remained reachable, close and secure amid all losses: language. Yes, language. In spite of everything, it remained secure against loss. But it had to go through its own lack of answers, through terrifying silence, through the thousand darknesses of murderous speech. It went through. It gave me no words for what was happening, but went through it. Went through and could resurface, 'enriched' by it all.
The guy had a way with words.
Sadly, but perhaps appropriately given that he was a poet, he died by his own hand. That's how Britannica phrases it anyway. Wikipedia is less lyrical about it and says that he committed suicide by drowning in the Seine river in Paris, around April 20, 1970.

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