Fragments from Celan and Adonis

I’ve been reading poetry recently.  Here are some beautiful moments that two poets have brought us.


The forest gave you a necklace of hands. So dead you walk the rope.

~ Paul Celan (line from Tallow Lamp)

Your hands full of hours, you came to me–and I said:
Your hair is not brown.
So you lifted it lightly on to the scales of grief; it weighed more
than I…

~ Paul Celan (fragment from Your hands full of hours)

Black milk of daybreak we drink it at sundown
we drink it at noon in the morning we drink it at night
we drink and we drink it
we dig a grave in the breezes there one lies unconfined
A man lives in the house he plays with serpents he writes
he writes when dusk falls to Germany your golden hair
he writes it and steps out of doors and the stars are flashing he
whistles his pack out
he whistles his Jews out in earth has them dig for a grave
he commands us strike up for the dance

~ Paul Celan (fragment from Death Fugue)


Life produces death, which is its essence.

~ Adonis (line from Explanations)

How can I call what is between us a past?

“What is between us is not a story
not a human apple or a jinn’s
not a sign of a season
or a place
not anything that could be historicized”       This is
what the vicissitudes inside us say

How can I say then that our love
has been taken by the wrinkled hands of time

~ Adonis (How can I call what is between us a past; from Beginnings of the Body, Ends of the Sea)

He holds the plow to his chest,
clouds and rain in his palms.
His plow opens doors
toward a richer possibility.
He scatters dawn on his field
and gives it meaning.

~ Adonis (fragment from Rains)

Pond with Ducks, Central Park


About sputnitsa

Born in the US, I grew up in Africa and the West Indies, and returned stateside in my teens. After a decade in international development, democracy work, and inclusivity training for domestic NGOs, I joined Peace Corps, and after a year, experienced my first Russian invasion. I followed that up by volunteering with refugees and youth, and after some vacation time climbing minarets and mountains, I returned to New York City, where today I work on social justice with college students, produce short films, and write.
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6 Responses to Fragments from Celan and Adonis

  1. Beth says:

    I’ve been on a poetry kick, too! But Liz Lochhead and Carol Ann Duffy are my poets of choice at the moment. 🙂

    • sputnitsa says:

      Someone (she said meaningfully) is going to have to quote excerpts of their fave Lochhead and Duffy poems, methinks. (She then nodded meaningfully.) (Then she pointed at Beth meaningfully.)

      You’re gonna, right?? 🙂 I’ve only read one Carol Ann Duffy poem and loved it–I think it was called Pygmalion or about Pygmalion, at least. Brilliant. And never read any Lochhead. 🙂 Awesomeness!!

      • Beth says:

        I was introduced to both of their work this year, a good friend of mine absolutely adores poetry and it has rubbed off on me a bit. 🙂

        I saw both of them at the Edinburgh International Book Fest! 😀
        Miles Away
        I want you and you are not here. I pause
        in this garden, breathing the colour thought is
        before language into still air. Even your name
        is a pale ghost and, though I exhale it again
        and again, it will not stay with me. Tonight
        I make you up, imagine you, your movements clearer
        than the words I have you say you said before.

        Wherever you are now, inside my head you fix me
        with a look, standing here whilst cool late light
        dissolves into the earth. I have got your mouth wrong,

        but still it smiles. I hold you closer, miles away,
        inventing love, until the calls of nightjars
        interrupt and turn what was to come, was certain,
        into memory. The stars are filming us for no one.

  2. sputnitsa says:

    Beautiful 🙂 LOVE IT! 🙂 Time to pick up a collection of her work, methinks!! 🙂

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