Paul Celan’s Romanian Poems
Trans. Nina Cassian
Here are the long overdue translations of Paul Celan’s Romanian poems (one poem dated 1947) by a great poet, Nina Cassian: they contain the buds, bloom, and deathly flowering of the obsessions found in all of Celan’s work—never-before reaches of language, death, drowning, deportation, love, pride, loneliness. The book also includes important essays by Nina Cassian on Celan’s early life and work, and post-WWII Bucharest and Paris.
“Paul Celan is an indispensable poet for those who would understand the twentieth century.”
Letter from Paul Celan to Nina Cassian, 1947:
“Ingrate!…Seeing yourself simultaneously in the double posture of sleeping bird and fountain pen…the foul mouths of Prosperity will never be able to say we did not love each other. Let the sea come over us and let our brother-sharks gobble us up!
[signed] Paul (more African than ever).”
“Nina Cassian was a fierce and highly determined poet. Her work is so witty and clever, so mordantly funny and skillfully made, that it is possible to underestimate her driving passions, her wild-eyed fevers, her ferocious presence. Her sense of wonder was intense. It’s as if she were aggressively remembering the creation or, more exactly, writing just after the expulsion. She was a sublime artist, like Sappho, a poet of passionate depths—and great heights.”