In Memoriam Paul Celan
Lay these words into the dead man's grave next to the almonds and black cherries--- tiny skulls and flowering blood-drops, eyes, and Thou, O bitterness that pillows his head. Lay these words on the dead man's eyelids like eyebrights, like medieval trumpet flowers that will flourish, this time, in the shade. Let the beheaded tulips glisten with rain. Lay these words on his drowned eyelids like coins or stars, ancillary eyes. Canopy the swollen sky with sunspots while thunder addresses the ground. Syllable by syllable, clawed and handled, the words have united in grief. It is the ghostly hour of lamentation, the void's turn, mournful and absolute. Lay these words on the dead man's lips like burning tongs, a tongue of flame. A scouring eagle wheels and shrieks. Let God pray to us for this man.
From Earthly Measures by Edward Hirsch, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 Edward Hirsch. Used with permission.
Born in Chicago on January 20, 1950, Edward Hirsch is a poet and literary advocate. His second collection, Wild Gratitude (Knopf, 1986), received the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Date Published: 1994-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/memoriam-paul-celan