Vigil: for Paul Celan | Caroline Lemak Brickman | The Hypocrite Reader

Caroline Lemak Brickman

Vigil: for Paul Celan


Insomnia. Homer. The sails unfurling.
I read the catalogue of ships, I read, I did not get far:
The line of cranes, the train of young tailing
high over Hellas, once, before time and again.

Like that cranewedge driven deepest into the strange—
Atop heads tsarlike sprays the froth of god—
You float, you swim along–and where? Without Helen there,
Achaeans, what would that Troy, I wonder, be for you?

Homer, the seas; the love that moves them both.
Whom do I heed and whom do I hear? Lo, he’s silent now, Homer.
The sea, black and eloquent, slaps against the shore,
I hear it roaring at the head, finding its way here.

                               Osip Mandelstam 1915
                               Paul Celan 1960