A Labyrinth _ Celan's poem: Tübingen, Jänner (1)

The first impression of the poem points to the work and life of Hölderlin. In the first stanza Celan quotes a sentence : “ein Räitsel its Reinentsprunges” […] from the swabian poet hymn "Der Rhein." (1)

But, in his speech "The Meridian"(2) Celan also alludes to Georg Büchner personage Lenz who became insane in the 20th January. Another significant fact for Celan took place on January 20, 1942: the Wannsee Conference. Reinhard Heydrich, Himmler's second in command of the SS organization, convened a conference in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee to determine the future of the jewish population and coordinate the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question."

Celan focuses attention and adds details about the last years of Hölderlin’s life on referring Hölderlintürme. In Tübingen, after doctors diagnosed Hölderlin’s mental illness, the carpenter Ernst Zimmer and his family took care of him and logged the poet in their home at a tower overlooking the Neckar. He lived there for 36 years until his dead. The Schreiner of the second stanza evokes Zimmer.

The poem includes another Hölderlin quotation: (“Pallaksch. Pallaksch”), a nonsense expression often used by Hölderlin during his insanity, documented by the poet first biographer Christoph Theodor Schwab. (3)

Hölderlin, Louise Keller drawing (1842)

A recurrent theme in Hölderlin’s poetry is the complex relations among human’s world and the goods sphere. He conceives the poet as a mediator between the two levels. Analogically the content of Tübinger Jänner expresses a crucial problem of Celan’s own poetry: the possibility or impossibility of language and communication. Heike Bartel wrote about the suject as follows:

[...] Celan makes many references to language and speech in Tübingen, Jänner and therefore chooses the fowlling expressions: Zür Blindheit über-/redete[…]tauchenden […]worten[…]. Sprächer, lallen und lallen ─ like the words describing movement in the same poem, Erinnerung; Schwimmen; umschwirren, tauchenden ─ the terms referring to language cannot be pinned down easily either.

The first and second ones are integrated in complex metaphors: Zür Blindheit über-/redete/Augen; bei/diesen/tauchend Worten. They are difficult to interpret, but it is obvious that both combine two different spheres with each other. Zür Blindheit über-/redete/Augen combines seeing-or-not seeing in this case – and speaking. [B]ei/diesen/tauchenden, worten describes how words - usually articulated through the air – are moving through water. The third therm – Sprächer – is written in the subjunctive mood the “coniuntius irrealis”, showing that something is not a fact but is restricted by certain conditions and dependent on the surrounding circumstances. The last one describes a way of talking without sense or differentiation, language determines the last three lines of the poem where the text itself descends into bable repeating words and exchanging syllables in a seemingly absurd manner: Käme/ Käme […], /Käme immer-immer-/Zuzu. [...] (4)

Isaac Sinclair (1775-1815)


(1) This poem was dedicated to Isaac Sinclair one of Hölderlin’s closest and most loyal friends. Höderlin characterized the structure of the hymn as follows:

The law of this poem [dieses Gesanges] is that the first two parts are formally opposed as progression and regression but are alike in subject matter the two succeeding parts are formally alike but are opposed as regards subject matter the last part, however, balances everything out with a continuos metaphor.

Friedrich Holderlin and Eric.L. Santner (ed), Hyperion and selected poems, (Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. , 2002), Endnotes, p.295

(2) P. Celan, "The Meridian", in John Felstiner, Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan, (New York - London, W.W. Norton & Company, 2001) pp. 401-413.

"Hör ich’s da auch, sagt’s der Wind auch?Hör ich’s immer, immer zu, stich tot, tot." ( Do I hear it there, too, does the windsay it, too? Hear it always, always, on, on, stick dead, dead.”) Lenz, Georg Biichner

(3)Thomas Bosche on Kurtag's interpretation of Celan's poem: The Celan poem with which Kurtag concludes the cycle may offer a key to the Holderlin songs as a whole, embodying as it does a view of the poet Holderlin from the perspective of our own age. The title "Tubingen, Janner" is a twofold allusion: to Holderlin's town, of course, and to Lenz's "20. Janner". The Holderlin tower is described as afloat; the joiner Zimmer, who took in the sick poet, is drowned. The Neckar proves to be, not "that which cultivates the land / Which nourishes father and beloved children / In cities that it founded", as Holderlin had praised the Rhine in an ode to the river, from which Celan quotes the line "Ein Ratsel ist Reinent-sprungenes..."["an enigma is the purely originated"]. The words that might describe a poet today seem to spring from the Neckar, but are described as "submerging". Celan inverts the imagery of the Rhine ode into the negative: today, a poet can only babble. "Pallaksch", which Celan puts in brackets, is a word Holderlin is said to have used with visitors during his madness. Christoph Theodor Schwab recounted in 1846 that Holderlin had answered questions with this word, which meant both "yes" and "no". But for Kurtag it is more of a curse. Celan gives it to a person who, by no means mad, is surrounded by the divine aura of the "shining beard of the Patriarchs" ["Lichtbart der Patriarchen"]. Kurtag wants the word "Pallaksch" to be sung in a fortissimo of "extreme rage and desperation", then "almost shouting" and finally pianissimo, "suddenly fleeting", in this way compressing the greatest agitation and resignation into the smallest possible space. Holderlin's madness reveals itself as the madness of our time, about which there can be no poetry, only babbling. It is from this that the Holderlin settings derive their timeliness, uncompromising stringency and matchless radicalness. The impression of interiority, almost autism, evoked by the textless melismas - recalling the voices heard by schizophrenics and the endless pacing and mumbling of the crazed poet - thus become a judgement on the present-day world. This is Kurtag's most radical verdict on contemporary life to date. At the same time, he interprets "Kame, ka-me ein Mensch..." ("Should, should a man come..."), marked "Arioso, molto largamente", with profound intimacy, as if he knew both Celan's original version of the poem -"Should, should a child come into the world, today..."- and the Messianic hope expressed by this invocation. From here

(4) Heikel Bartel, "Dimensions of Parody in the Poems of Paul Celan"in Beate Müller (ed), Parody Dimensions and Perspectives on Modern Literature, (Amsterdam-Atlanta, GA, Rodolpi, 1997), pp. 19-20.

Pictures from, Paulo Quintela, Hölderlin, (Porto, Editorial Inova LDA, 1971).


Tübingen, Jänner

Zur Blindheit über
redete Augen.
Ihre - ‘ein
Rätsel ist Rein-
entsprungenes’–, ihre
Erinnerung an
schwimmende Hölderlintürme, möwen-

Besuche ertrunkener Schreiner bei
tauchenden Worten:

käme ein Mensch,
käme ein Mensch zur Welt, heute, mit
dem Lichtbart der
Patriarchen: er dürfte,
spräch er von dieser
Zeit, er
nur lallen und lallen,
immer-, immerzuzu.

(‘Pallaksch. Pallaksch.’)

P. Celan, in John Felstiner, Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan, (New York - London, W.W. Norton & Company, 2001) p. 158.

Tübingen, January

Eyes talked into

Their - 'a riddle, what is pure-
ly arisen' -, their
memory of
floating Hölderlintowers, gull-

Visits of drowned joiners to
Plunging words:

Came, if there
Came a man,
Came a man to the world, today, with
The patriarchs’
Light-beard: he could,
If he spoke of this
Time, he
Only babble and babble,
Ever- ever-

(“Pallaksh. Pallaksh.”)

Translated by John Felstiner, Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan, (New York - London, W.W. Norton & Company, 2001) p. 159.

Tübingen, January

Eyes talked into
Their – “an enigma is
the purely originated” – their
memory of
Hölderlin towers afloat, circled
by whirring gulls.

Visits of drowned joiners to
submerging words.

Should a man come into the world, today, with
the shining beard of the
patriarchs: he could
if he spooke of this
only babble and babble
over, over
again again.

(“Pallaksh. Pallaksh.”)

Translated by Michael Hamburger - who has translated both Hölderlin and Celan, says “Celan can be seen as continuing a line of development in German poetry that runs from Klopstock and Hölderlin in the eighteenth century to the later Rilke and Georg Trakl.”Michael Hamburger, Poems Paul Celan,(New York, Persea, 1988), p. 177

Tübingen, Janeiro

Olhos con-
vertidos à cegueira.
A sua -- "são
um enigma as puras
origens" --, a sua
memória de
torres de Hölderlin flutuando no esvoaçar
de gaivotas.

Marceneiros afogados visitando
palavras a afundarem-se:

Se viesse,
se viesse um homem,
se viesse um homem ao mundo, hoje, com
a barba de luz dos
patriarcas: só poderia,
se falasse deste
tempo, só
balbuciar balbuciar
sempre, sempre,
só só

("Pallaksch. Pallaksch.")

Paul Celan, tradução de João Barrento e Y.K. Centeno in Sete Rosas Mais Tarde, Antologia Poética, (Edições Cotovia, Lisboa, 1996)


Tournez, tournez ...

Chevaux de bois

Tournez, tournez, bons chevaux de bois,
Tournez cent tours, tournez mille tours,
Tournez souvent et tournez toujours,
Tournez, tournez au son des hautbois.

Le gros soldat, la plus grosse bonne
Sont sur vos dos comme dans leur chambre,
Car en ce jour au bois de la Cambre
Les maîtres sont tous deux en personne.

Tournez, tournez, chevaux de leur cœur,
Tandis qu'autour de tous vos tournois
Clignote l'œil du filou sournois,
Tournez au son du piston vainqueur.

C'est ravissant comme ça vous saoule
D'aller ainsi dans ce cirque bête :
Bien dans le ventre et mal dans la tête,
Du mal en masse et du bien en foule.

Tournez, tournez sans qu'il soit besoin
D'user jamais de nuls éperons
Pour commander à vos galops ronds,
Tournez, tournez, sans espoir de foin.

Et dépêchez, chevaux de leur âme
Déjà voici que la nuit qui tombe
Va réunir pigeon et colombe
Loin de la foire et loin de madame.

Tournez, tournez! le ciel en velours
D'astres en or se vêt lentement.
Voici partir l'amante et l'amant.
Tournez au son joyeux des tambours!

Verlaine, Champ de foire de Saint-Gilles, août 1872.

( Romances sans paroles, 1874)


Rainy days

La pluie est le mot de passe de ceux qui ont le goût pour une certaine suspension du monde. Dire que l’on aime la pluie, c’est affirmer une différence.


La pluie confirme mes sentiments. Certains amours ne lui ont pas résisté; leurs couleurs mal fixées ont été délavées. La pluie agit tel le révélateur du photographe qui, sous la lumière rouge, porte l'image à la vie. Elle achève la cristallisation.
La pluie est le dernier moyen que la Nature a trouvé pour se manifester dans nos villes. Le chêne n'enjambe pas les buildings, le caribou se ferait écraser sur l'autoroute et la cigogne désespère de construire son nid sur les poteaux électriques. La pluie est l'ambassadrice du végétal, de l'animal et du minéral auprès de notre civilisation ; elle défend leurs intérêts et, si les offenses se font trop importantes, les venge.
La pluie accompagne la gravitation, et la dessine. La chute est, au même titre que la fractale, une forme que l'on trouve partout dans la nature. Il suffit d'observer: de nos dents de lait à la pomme de Newton, tout tombe.
Un jour, les astrophysiciens découvriront l'évidence: la pluie, en tombant sur la Terre, la pousse et la fait tourner. Elle est responsable de la rotation du globe terrestre sur lui-même et autour du Soleil.

Martin Page, De la Pluie, (Ramsay, 2007),pp. 15,17, 79.


Crépuscule du soir mystique

Crépuscule du soir mystique

Le Souvenir avec le Crépuscule
Rougeoie et tremble à l'ardent horizon

De l'Espérance en flamme qui recule
Et s'agrandit ainsi qu'une cloison

Mystérieuse où mainte floraison
Dahlia, lys, tulipe et renoncule -

S'élance autour d'un treillis, et circule
Parmi la maladive exhalaison

De parfums lourds et chauds, dont le poison
Dahlia, lys, tulipe et renoncule -

Noyant mes sens, mon âme et ma raison,

Mêle dans une immense pâmoison

Le Souvenir avec le Crépuscule.

Paul Verlaine

Irène Regina Poldowski, née Wieniawski

Irène Regina Poldowski


Mallarmé - Debussy


Mon âme vers ton front où rêve, ô calme soeur,
Un automne jonché de taches de rousseur,
Et vers le ciel errant de ton oeil angélique,
Monte, comme dans un jardin mélancolique,
Fidèle, un blanc jet d'eau soupire vers l'Azur!
- Vers l'Azur attendri d'octobre pâle et pur
Qui mire aux grands bassins sa langueur infinie,
Et laisse sur l'eau morte où la fauve agonie
Des feuilles erre au vent et creuse un froid sillon,
Se traîner le soleil jaune d'un long rayon.

Stéphane Mallarmé (1864)

Debussy, Mélodies

"The tonal scheme of Soupir organizes all the elements that punctuate the poem: distintive accompanimentl motives, carefully chosen note durations and melodic contours. The puntuation of a poem is one of the most basic functions of a song setting, in a poem with the gramatical complexity of Soupir it is also one of the most important."
Arthur B. Wenk, Claude Debussy and the Poets, (University of California Press, 1976)

Mariannem Wheeldon, Debussy's "Soupir": An Experiment in Permutational AnalysisPerspectives of New Music, June 22, 2000 .


Kitsch e-cards from Solano's land

Badajoz was one of many Spanish frontier towns, where generations of Portuguese people used to buy Solano caramels. [But I prefer smooth very soft eating creamy toffee instead hard caramels as Solano’s].

The restored square called Plaza Alta ( or Obispo Marín de Rodezno, the oldest square of Badajoz), with tricolor picturesque alleyways and arcades.

After a lot of mint granizado ...


La Emboscada de Villamesías

On the road, 25 kms far from Trujillo, we glimpsed a nice old church ... however the village wasn't so attractive as we presumed ... ugly lamps and electrical cables ...

Iglesia Parroquial de Santo Domingo de Guzmán, Plaza de España, Villamesías

Near Villamesías took place the most important armed confrontation in the province of Cáceres, during the first days of the Civil War: the well-known “battle of Villamesías”. Troops of the Alger Regiment, helped by the Civil Guard and Phalanges of Miajadas and Zorita, faced several columns of republicans commanded by the Ciudad Real Civil Governor. It was the most serious attempt to reconquer the province of Cáceres that the republicans intend during the first attacks of the conflict. The military services formed by workers and farmers, were decimated without compassion in an ambush at Cañada Mariagua. They demonstrated a fervent patriotic ardor, but lacking a minimum of adequate military preparation and fighting against professional troops, its defeat was resounding.


My third visit to Trujillo (4) La Alberca

La Alberca

One of the first recorded mentions of Trujillo are in the writings of Higinius, a Roman under Tragen. Trujillo is described as a colony dependent on Augusta Emerita, modern day Merida. Trujillo was known as Turgallium, a primitive defensive village, during the Roman epoch (206 BC-414 AC). Through time the name morphed until it achieved its current formulation. The higher part of the city is where one will find evidence that the Romans ever settled here. La Alberca (water reservoir) is a natural spring converted into a "bath". Other reminders of the Roman presence may lie buried beneath Trujillo.

Behind the church of San Andrés is La Alberca (from the Albirka), a building many scholars believe to have been a Roman bath. It is eleven meters deep, formed by three natural springs and at the bottom a Roman stone can be found, with some carving but no inscription. It was reformed by the Arabs for irrigation. It was used as a public bath until 1935. At that time women went to bathe in the morning and men in the afternoon. In front of the entrance is a late Medieval sarcophagus, which has found a new function as a drinking trough for cattle. (Lancia Publications, page32)

My third visit to Trujillo - España, Extremadura (3)

I took so long to publish this posts about Trujillo, because my photos (Shooting Date: 25/08/2010) and my words didn't captured its essence/atmosphere, neither the beauty of the moment. When I saw the pics I felt tremendously disappointed in myself ... Don't seem ... too much photos ...

My third visit to Trujillo - España, Extremadura (2)