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Published: Sun Apr 15 2001
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Untitled

Translated from the German by Franz Wright

 

Dull sun
across a black gray desolation.
A tree-
high thought
grasps the shade of light: there are
still songs
to sing past
man.

 

Paul Celan (1920–1970) was one of the twentieth century’s greatest German-language poets. He was born to Jewish parents in Czernowitz, then part of Romania. He lost his parents to the Nazi genocide and was himself a survivor of a forced-labor camp. After brief periods in postwar Bucharest and Vienna, he settled in Paris, where, alongside his work as a poet, he taught German at the École Normale Supérieure and translated from many languages. He died of suicide.

Franz Wright (1953–2015) was the son of poet James Wright. He was the author of many books of poetry, including Walking to Martha’s Vineyard (Knopf, 2003), for which he won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize.

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