Paul Celan, "Memory of France"

by on Aug.21, 2013

It’s been a long time since I read Paul Celan. Read some of the early poems in Swedish translation by Lars-Inge Nilsson today. Just can’t get over how beautiful “Memory of France” is. So I’m “translating” it here from Swedish to English:

Memory of France

You, remember with me: the skies of Paris, the large autumn crocus…
We bought hearts from the flower girls:
they were blue and blossomed out in water.
it started to rain in our room
and our neighbor came, Monseiur Le Songe, a ragged little man.
We played cards, I lost the irises of my eyes;
you lent me your hair, I lost it, he struck us down.
He left through the door, the rain followed him.
We were dead and could breathe.

3 comments for this entry:
  1. Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle

    I Don’t Chill

    I know I’m as uncool as hell (Ha! Do you get it?) ’cause I don’t care much for Paul Celan. But this one poem, Johannes, I love so bad I tried to live it.

    G C-H

  2. Michael Peverett

    That’s cool. I have a sort of plan to translate some Spanish poetry through Swedish, one day. I think the poem can become more glowing with all that handling. Poems aren’t made of words!

  3. Johannes

    Yeah the other day on facebook I helped the Mexican poet Dolores Dorantes translate a Gunnar Ekelöf poem. Don’t know if she used an English translation or google-translations, but it seemed good! / Johannes