The Best Thing Anyone Ever Said About Paul Celan

Today you will the     say the any ever

best thing any ever anyone

Said about Paul Celan

The world is if it isn’t     does it matter isn’t

waiting     or it might be might as well

Be if it knew     and some

People for some     people the wait is mostly it’s

a world in which the fact of Paul Celan

was and is always will have been and be

A fact and necessary     living in such a world

is the far greater agony the wait is no

agony     not compared to living in that world it is

Absurd to say he wouldn’t Paul Celan would recognize it still

No person ever is naive

but populations are naive and always will be

even innocent

is the far greater agony

It is     / More like a toothache

the pain of the wait for some

More like a pain in the hole from which

You even now prepare yourself to speak


Copyright © 2013 by Shane McCrae. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on May 15, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

About this Poem

"As I wrote this poem, I was thinking, or trying to think, about wars, especially the horrors of our recent wars, and about individual and collective responsibility. But the whole time I was also thinking about Paul Celan’s work--that I don't understand it at all, that I love it, that loving it feels wrong--and about individual and collective responsibility."
--Shane McCrae