I HEAR THE AXE HAS FLOWERED,

I hear the place can’t be named,

I hear the bread that looks on him

heals the hanged man,

the bread his wife baked him,

I hear they call life

the only refuge.

 

 

WITH A FIELDMOUSE VOICE

you squeak up,

a sharp

clamp,

you bite through my vest into flesh,

a cloth,

you slip over my mouth,

even as my talk

would weigh you, shadow,

down.

 

 

IN LIZARD

skins, Epi-

leptic,

I bed you, on the sills,

the gable

holes

infill us, with lightsoil.

 

 

SNOW PART, pitched, to the last,

in the updraught, before

for ever unwindowed

huts:

to skim flat dreams

over

fretted ice;

to hew out the word-

shadows, to cord them

round the cramp-iron

in the pit.

 

Paul Celan was born in Romania in 1920. He authorized the publication of seven poetry collections before committing suicide in 1970. These four poems are from Schneepart * (Snow Part), considered to be his last book. Although Celan did not authorize its publication, *Schneepart * was included in the 1983 edition of his *Gesmmelte Werke (Collected Works). This forthcoming edition by The Sheep Meadow Press marks the first edition of Schneepart in English.

Ian Fairley works as a teacher and counsellor in Leeds, England.

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