Tuesday, July 22, 2014


(pic by John Brosio via boingboing)

"Celan was the skilled practitioner of the art of the Widerruf, the refutation of a given poem (often Rilke’s) by one of his own." So says Katherine Washburn, in the introduction to her translation, Last Poems. The only specific example i am given is the following:

      Hölderlin's "Patmos" (first stanza):

God is near
Yet hard to seize
Where there is danger,
The rescue grows as well.
Eagles live in the darkness,
And the sons of the Alps
Go fearlessly over the abyss
Upon bridges simply built.
Therefore, since the peaks
Of Time are heaped all about,
And dear ones live close by,
Worn down on the most separated mountains
Then give us innocent waters;
Give us wings, and the truest minds
To voyage over and then again to return.

(tr Scott Horton)

(That poem was itself a reply of sorts...)

      Celan's "Tenebrae":

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.

(M Hamberger tr)

Clearly Celan means to contrast hard/easy to grasp, mountains/hollows, & water/blood here.

Another that comes to mind is when Marlowe wrote "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" & Walter Raleigh answered it in the voice of the nymph. (Not so unusual, as it turns out, though we only remember this instance.)

Sina Queyras answered Plath's "Tulips", & the reviewer invokes (of all people) Hegel: Aufhebung, or sublation.

It was not unusual for Chinese poets to write a new poem using all the rhymes of another poem (i have done this with Pessoa's English sonnets). Of course, Japanese poetry has honkadori--of which this seems a lesser subset--& allusion in general was important in Latin & Classical Arabic poetry as well. Nowadays, intertextuality has become a standard part of postmodern practice; remakes jostle remakes (including a graphic novel that was written in order to reconcile the inconsistencies of the original Planet of the Apes films); spinoffs, fanfic, mashups & revisionings (e.g. fairy tales--don't get me started--!)abound, almost to the point that what seems exceptional is the solitary text without precedent.

As "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" inhabiting the background of "Hamlet"...Milton's sibling poems "L'Allegro" & "Il Penseroso"...

Another anaglyphic painter.


"A spoken language works

for about five centuries,
lifespan of a douglas fir"

Gary Snyder (via via)

"In many noh plays, the place-names appear more significant than the people themselves.."

Let's go purge.



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