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Poetry

Last Night

Translated from Romanian

From the trees planted by dusk in our rooms that were set on fire
we'll slowly untie the glass pigeons, that eternal foliage;
they'll grow rustling on our shoulders and arms, and there will be no wind,
but rather a pool of shadows, in which you cannot take root,
a frozen lake, in which the drowned are competing for the crown of scales,
and life is the boat at the shore, abandoned by its oars.
A voice will come to us from the flames to stain its silver with blood,
to announce, returned to the fire: Not me, but they alone know the hour!
And then they'll set out from the desert to empty their sand around you:
I wish there were mountains around, so we may remain in the Valley of Sadness—
And, now and then, for you to untie the glass pigeons, one by one,
and, when they'll burst in the air, to endlessly talk to me.

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

English

From the trees planted by dusk in our rooms that were set on fire
we'll slowly untie the glass pigeons, that eternal foliage;
they'll grow rustling on our shoulders and arms, and there will be no wind,
but rather a pool of shadows, in which you cannot take root,
a frozen lake, in which the drowned are competing for the crown of scales,
and life is the boat at the shore, abandoned by its oars.
A voice will come to us from the flames to stain its silver with blood,
to announce, returned to the fire: Not me, but they alone know the hour!
And then they'll set out from the desert to empty their sand around you:
I wish there were mountains around, so we may remain in the Valley of Sadness—
And, now and then, for you to untie the glass pigeons, one by one,
and, when they'll burst in the air, to endlessly talk to me.

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

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