Published on Academy of American Poets (

Count the Almonds,

translated by Pierre Joris

count what was bitter and kept you awake,
count me among them:

I searched for your eye, when you opened it and no one looked at you,
I spun that secret thread,
along which the dew you thought
slid down to the jars,
watched over by a saying that found its way to no one’s heart.

Only there did you wholly enter the name that is yours,
did you step sure-footed toward yourself,
did the hammers swing free in the belfry of your silence,
the overheard reach you,
the dead put its arm around you too,
and all three of you walked through the evening.

Make me bitter.
Count me among the almonds.


Zähle die Mandeln,

zähle, was bitter war und dich wachhielt,
zähl mich dazu:

Ich suchte dein Aug, als du’s aufschlugst und niemand dich ansah,
ich spann jenen heimlichen Faden,
an dem der Tau, den du dachtest,
hinunterglitt zu den Krügen,
die ein Spruch, der zu niemandes Herz fand, behütet.

Dort erst tratest du ganz in den Namen, der dein ist,
schrittest du sicheren Fußes zu dir,
schwangen die Hämmer frei im Glockenstuhl deines Schweigens,
stieß das Erlauschte zu dir,
legte das Tote den Arm auch um dich,
und ihr ginget selbdritt durch den Abend.

Mache mich bitter.


Copyright © 2020 by Pierre Joris. From Memory Rose into Threshold Speech: The Collected Earlier Poetry (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2020) by Paul Celan, translated by Pierre Joris. Used with the permission of the translator.


Paul Celan

Paul Antschel, who wrote under the pseudonym Paul Celan, was born in Czernovitz, in Romania, on November 23, 1920. The son of German-speaking Jews, Celan grew up speaking several languages, including Romanian, Russian, and French. 

Date Published: 2020-10-01

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