Decked Out at Night

by Paul Celan

for Hannah and Hermann Lenz

Decked out at night,
the lips of the flowers;
trunks of the spruce,
crossed and entwined;
moss turned gray, stone shaken;
roused to endless flight,
jackdaws over the glacier:

this is the region where
the ones we have caught up with
stop to rest:

they will not name the hour
nor count the flakes
nor follow the water to the weir.

They stand apart in this world,
each one with his night,
each one with his death,
morose, bareheaded, hoarfrost-covered
by all that is near and far.

They are repaying the guilt which gave a soul to their origins,
they repay it to a word
that exists unjustly, as summer.

A word— you know:
a corpse.

Let’s wash it.
let’s comb it,
and let’s turn its eye

Translated from the German by David Young

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