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Celan’s ‘Tenebrae’

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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, 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 glänzte.

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.

Bete, 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, 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 gleamed.

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.

Pray, 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.)

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