from Celan, Paul. "Speech on the Occasion of Receiving the Literature Prize of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen." Collected Prose. Trans. Rosemarie Waldrop. Manchester: Carcenet Press, 1986. 33-35.
"Only one thing remained reachable, close and secure amid all losses: language. Yes, language. In spite of everything, it remained secure against loss. But it had to go through its own lack of answers, through terrifying silence, through the thousand darknesses of murderous speech. It went through. It gave me no words for what was happening, but went through it. Went through and could resurface, 'enriched' by it all.
In this language I tried, during those years, and the years after, to write poems: in order to speak, to orient myself, to find out where I was, where I was going, to chart my reality.
It meant movement, you see, something happening, being en route, an attempt to find a direction. Whenever I ask about the sense of it, I remind myself that this implies the question as to which sense is clockwise.
For the poem does not stand outside time. True, it claims the infinite and tries to reach across time - but across, not above.
A poem, being an instance of language, hence essentially dialogue, may be a letter in a bottle thrown out to sea with the - surely not always strong - hope that it may somehow wash up somewhere, perhaps on the shoreline of the heart. In this way, too, poems are en route: they are headed toward.
Toward what? Toward something open, inhabitable, an approachable you, perhaps, an approachable reality."