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Andrés Paniagua Curiel
User: anselmo_b
Name: Andrés Paniagua Curiel
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the period of cosmography - Death Fugue
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Death Fugue

Death Fugue

Black milk of dawn we drink it at evening
we drink it at noontime we drink it at night
we drink and we drink
we shovel a grave in the air there one lays unconstrained
A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents he writes
he writes when it darkens to Germany your golden hair Margarete
he writes it and steps to the front of the house and the stars beam and he whistles a call to his hounds
he whistles a call to his Jews and orders a grave to be dug in the earth
he orders us now play some dances

Black milk of dawn we drink you at night
we drink you at morning and noontime we drink you at evening
we drink and we drink
A man lives in the house he plays with the serpents he writes
he writes when it darkens to Germany your golden hair Margarete
Your ashen hair Sulamith we shovel a grave in the air there one lays unconstrained

He bellows dig deeper you there you others keep singing and play
he grabs for the rod at his belt and he swings it blue are his eyes
dig deeper those shovels you there you others keep playing your dances

Black milk of dawn we drink you at night
we drink you at noontime at morning and evening
we drink and we drink
a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Sulamith he plays with the serpents
he orders play death so much sweeter Death is a master from Germany
he orders play darker those violins then you will rise up in smoke to the air
then you will have a grave in the clouds there one lays unconstrained

Black milk of the dawn we drink you at night
we drink you at noontime Death is a master from Germany
we drink you at evening at morning we drink and we drink
Death is a Master from Germany blue is his eye
he hits you with leaden bullet he hits you precise
a man lives in the house your golden hair Margarete
he stirs his hounds against us he gives us a grave in the air
he plays with the serpents and dreams Death is a master from Germany

your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Sulamith

Paul Celan
Translated by Andrés Paniagua Curiel
This is Paul Celan reciting the poem himself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVwLqEHDCQE

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Comments
jackfirecat From: jackfirecat Date: March 13th, 2014 09:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's got a dancing rhythm, it's got word feeling (ash, mith; gold, grete); I don't know the original but this is scary-feeling, hackles-rising; good poetry.
anselmo_b From: anselmo_b Date: March 14th, 2014 07:13 am (UTC) (Link)
You can't imagine how proud it makes me that you find music in my version. I tried hard to save some of it. but you should listen to celan reciting it himself. I made some tiny corrections and added a link to a recording.
crowleycrow From: crowleycrow Date: March 14th, 2014 08:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Only read the first lines on Facebook. Now reading the whole I'm ashamed that YOU weren't given the job of translating CW. This is masterful, really. I hope you do more.
anselmo_b From: anselmo_b Date: March 16th, 2014 10:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Although you exaggerate grossly I am very proud and grateful that you like it too. I will do more.
joculum From: joculum Date: March 15th, 2014 02:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Now that I have had the time to read this, I am stunned by its eloquence. I have never been satisfied with previous translations, and this one captures so much of Celan's power that the previous versions simply miss. The only thing that disturbs me a little is the use of the colloquial "lays" for "lies" but of course "there one lies unconstrained" would introduce an ambiguity that is not in the original text.
anselmo_b From: anselmo_b Date: March 16th, 2014 11:03 am (UTC) (Link)
To be honest I never get those right without checking them. But this time I needed a pedestrian expression to match the German which everybody translates very soberly. They miss the irony that there is not only in the meaning of lying unconstrained but in the way it's said. I wrote a couple of notes on the problems I have with some aspects of the translations I've found -English and Spanish. I will post them here when I put them into English.
dalaruan From: dalaruan Date: March 15th, 2014 03:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, Andrés, you expressed the rhythm, the music of its elegy excellenty. I know the poem very well; in Germany we learn it in school and I remember how it hit me and haunted me.
anselmo_b From: anselmo_b Date: March 16th, 2014 11:04 am (UTC) (Link)
I tried hard. It saddened me to learn that my kids didn't know it. Both made their Abitur here in München.
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