Poem for Marianne’s Shadow

Love's mint has grown like an angel's finger.


To believe: out of the earth an arm twisted by silence still rises,
a shoulder burned by torrid extinguished lights,
a face, the eyes blindfolded by sight's black veil,
a large wing of lead and another one of leaves,
a body, weary in the repose washed by the waters.


To see how it floats among grasses with spread out wings,
how it climbs a mistletoe ladder to a glass house,
where with very large steps a sea plant roams.


To think it's the right moment now to talk to me in tears,
to go barefoot there, so you be told what's in store for us:
the mourning sipped from a glass or the mourning sipped from a palm-
And the mad plant to fall asleep having heard your answer.


Clinking in the dark, let the house's windows ring,
telling each other what they know, but without finding out:
we love or we do not love each other.


(written sometime between 1945 and 1947)


From Paul Celan: Frühwerk (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1988). By arrangement with the publisher. Translation copyright 2005 by Victor Pambuccian. All rights reserved.