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Nah sind wir, Herr,
nahe und greifbar.
Gegriffen schon, Herr,
ineinander verkrallt, als wär
der Leib eines jeden von uns
dein Leib, Herr.
bete zu uns,
wir sind nah.
Windschief gingen wir hin,
gingen wir hin, uns zu bücken
nach Mulde und Maar.
Zur Tränke gingen wir, Herr.
Es war Blut, es war,
was du vergossen, Herr.
Es warf uns dein Bild in die Augen, Herr.
Augen und Mund stehn so offen und leer, Herr.
Wir haben getrunken, Herr.
Das Blut und das Bild, das im Blut war, Herr.
Wir sind nah.
We are close, Lord
Close and within reach.
Seized already, Lord,
clawed into our selves as though
the body of each of us were
your body, Lord.
pray to us,
who are close by.
Against the wind we went there,
went there to bend
over hollow and ditch.
To drink we went there, Lord.
It was blood, it was
That which you shed, Lord.
It cast your image into our eyes, Lord.
Our eyes and mouths stand open and empty, Lord.
We have drunk, Lord.
The blood and the image that was in the blood, Lord.
We are near.
–Paul Celan, Tenebrae first published in Sprachgitter (1959) in Gesammelte Werke, vol. 1, p. 163 (B. Allemann & S. Reichert eds. 1983)(S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Number of countries thought to possess chemical weapons:
Placebos are more effective if the drugs for which they stand in are said to be more expensive.
In Torrance, California, an African grey parrot named Nigel, who once spoke English with a British accent and had returned home after a four-year absence, began asking for someone named “Larry” and speaking Spanish.
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”