Another Paul Celan video


After the video with Celan reading Todesfuge posted by Baroque in Hackney a few weeks ago, here’s another I’ve just happened upon:

source: The Omniscient Mussel.

The poem he’s reading is Tenebrae:

Near are we, Lord,
near and graspable.

Grasped already, Lord,
clawed into each other, as if
each of our bodies were
your body, Lord.

Pray, Lord,
pray to us,
we are near.

Wind-skewed we went there,
went there to bend
over pit and crater.

Went to the water-trough, Lord.

It was blood, it was
what you shed, Lord.

It shined.

It cast your image into our eyes, Lord.
Eyes and mouth stand so open and void, Lord.
We have drunk, Lord.
The blood and the image that was in the blood, Lord.

Pray, Lord.
We are near.

[trans: John Felstiner]

The German composer Wolfgang Rihm chose Celan’s poem to conclude his composition Deus Passus. Interestingly, there’s another musical connection – Harrison Birtwistle’s Pulse Shadows – Meditations on Paul Celan for soprano, string quartet and ensemble (1996) includes a setting of the poem. This review, over at makes the Birtwistle piece sound unmissable.


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