Monday, January 05, 2015

Dreaming in the People Bed

Cassie, now our Only Dog, sleeps in the bed just like a person 
and often puts her head on the pillow.

O Little Root of a Dream

O little root of a dream
you hold me here 
undermined by blood, 
no longer visible to anyone, 
property of death. 

Curve a face 
that there may be speech, of earth, 
of ardor, 
of things with eyes, even 
here, where you read me blind, 

where you 
refute me, 
to the letter.

Paul Celan (1930 - 1970)

Translated by Nikolai Popov and Heather McHugh

I found this dream-poem tonight while I was looking for something else. I was struck at once by the short life span--only half of mine--of Paul Celan. And by thinking, yet again, of those terrible times in central Europe during the Holocaust in which he, of Jewish birth, had to somehow try to survive. 

The structure of this poem is extremely interesting: three five-line stanzas, of ever-decreasing width. I have had a sort of prejudice about a poem with a shorter width at the end; they often look to me as if they are about to topple over. 

An interesting task might be to use the form of this poem to write about something else.

1 comment:

  1. June--it is interesting that you have a prejudice against this form. Jorie Graham said in a workshop in Iowa once that one doesn't trust a poem written in the form of a trapezoid.