Wilhelm Kimmich, (1897-1986)
"Käppelehof in the summer" (1967), oil on canvas.

Insightful approach on Celan´s poem "Todtnauberg" borrow from Paul Celan: Exposing Poetry, an introductory essay:

[...] many Modernists were proto-fascists, yet this doesn't mean difficulty equals Totalitarianism. It means, instead, a 'crossing through danger' is not mere rhetoric. The dangers led Heidegger to his great error.
It troubled Celan that the man he saw as one of the greatest of modern thinkers, so close to his own work, was a Nazi. One cannot even say 'had been a Nazi' because he never said anything that amounted to a renunciation. Late in life, Heidegger became interested in Celan's work. He recognised him as the only living equal of Hölderlin. He attended public readings given by the poet, and in 1967 even invited him to his famous Black Forest retreat at Todtnauberg. Celan accepted. This was a significant move as Celan had developed an intense sensitivity (one might say 'anxiety') toward anti-Semitic tendencies in post-war Europe. When his dedicated publishers re-issued the work of a poet popular in the Nazi years, he left for another, and when German literary authorities exonerated him over plagiarism charges, he regarded it as a humiliation to be even under investigation. Yet here he was meeting a man in his most intimate home, a home in which, it is said, he had once run Nazi indoctrination sessions. Perhaps Celan never knew the full extent of Heidegger's culpability.
Generally, not much is known about Celan's reasons for accepting the invitation, nor what happened during the visit, but very soon after Celan wrote a poem called 'Todtnauberg'. The title reference is explicit; the place name is synonymous with the philosopher. This is the first half:

Arnica, eyebright,
the draft from the well
with the star-crowned die above it,
the hut,
the line
- whose name did the book
register before mine? -,
the line inscribed in that book about
a hope, today,
of a thinking man's
in the heart,
(trans. Michael Hamburger)

As Pierre Joris points out in his exceptional analysis of the various translations of the poem, 'Todtnauberg' is barely a poem than single sentence divided into eight stanzas. The first of the three above display Celan's extraordinary eye for nature, as noted earlier in "Nocturnally Pouting". Arnica and Eyebright are flowers noted for their healing qualities, so right from the start there is the sense of what the meeting is all about. In the third, the poet signs the visitors book and makes plain his awareness of who might have signed it before - Germans being indoctrinated into Nazi ideology perhaps. He hopes for a word in the heart of the great man. Did the word reveal itself? The remaining five stanzas are:

woodland sward, unlevelled,
orchid and orchid, single,
coarse stuff, later, clear
in passing,
he who drives us, the man,
who listens in,
the half- trodden fascine
walks over the high moors

Almost certainly not. The two men walked across woodland each in his isolation: an orchid and an orchid. And the poem remained isolated as far as Heidegger was concerned. He displayed his special copy of the poem proudly to subsequent visitors to the cottage, seemingly unaware of its implications. Perhaps this is enough to indicate the blindness of a man, even one with genius, rooted in his familiar landscape - brought out here in Hamburger's translation of log-paths as 'fascine', a word so close to 'fascist', the etymological origin coming, as Joris says, from the Latin 'fasces' - a bundle of wooden rods - the symbol of fascism.
'Todtnauberg' , therefore, cannot be regarded as a coded accusation, or as a shy expression of bitterness, or sentimental regret, or of pompous self-definition in contrast to a supposed intellectual superior, but rather the very openness Heidegger apparently lacked. As Celan once said: "Poetry does not impose itself, it exposes." The lack of a second 'itself' in this sentence exposes.

On this subject a pertinent article by Pierre Joris, "Celan/Heidegger, Translation at the Mountain of Death"

Georg Eduardo Otto Saal (1817-1870) "Todtmoos" (1861), oil on canvas


Arnika, Augentrost, der
Trunk aus dem Brunnen mit dem
Sternwurfel drauf,
in der
die in das Buch
—wessen Namen nahms auf
vor dem meinen?—,
die in dies Buch
geschriebene Zeile von
einer Hoffnung, heute,
auf eines Denkenden
im Herzen,
Waldwasen, uneingeebnet,
Orchis and Orchis, einzeln,
Krudes, später, im Fahren,
der uns fährt, der Mensch,
der's mi anhört,
die halb-
beschrittenen Knüppel-
pfade im Hochmoor,

Wilhelm Kimmich, Last painting (1986), oil on canvas

By Scott Horton

Arnica, eyebright, the
drink from the well with the
roll star die on top,
in the
written in the book
—whose name did it receive
before my own? — ,
the lines written
in this book about
a hope, today,
for the words
to come
in the heart
of a thinker,
sod of the woods, uneven,
orchis and orchis, separately,
crudity, later, in the process of driving,
he who is driving us, the human being,
he who hears it along with us,
the half-
trodden cudgel-
path on the high moor,
–Paul Celan, “Todtnauberg,” from Lichtzwang (1970) in: Gesammelte Werke, vol. 2, pp. 255-56 (S.H. transl.)

In this sense I  remember Gadamer’s   reconceptualization of  the hermeneutic circle as an iterative process through which a new understanding of a whole reality is developed by means of exploring the detail of existence. From Gadamer’s perspective the interaction between reader and text, is a constant discourse, and hence interpretation is a collaborative process. Entering into this process is what he calls the fusion of horizons. He sees this process of being one of constant mediation between the past (tradition, culture, experience) and the present horizon (the immediate experience) of the interpreter. As soon as we really open ourselves to a question, the understanding that we have as a result of all our previous experiences or knowledge of the question is immediately superseded by the impact of our exposure to the new experience.


Arnica, Eyebright, the
Drink from the well with the
star-die on top.

in the

into the book
─ whose name did it take in
before mine? ─
the line written into
this book about
a hope, today,
for thinker’s
delayed coming)
In the heart,

Woodland turf, undeleveled,
Orchis and Orchis, singly,

crudeness, later, while driving,

the one driving us, the man
who hears too,

the half-
trodden log-
paths on high moorland,


Translated by John Felstiner
p. 315


Arnika, centaurée, la
boisson du puits avec, au-dessus,

dans le refuge,

écrite dans le livre
(quel nom portait’il
avant le mien?),

écrite dans le livre
la ligne,
aujour’hui, d’une attente:
de qui pense
parole à venir au Coeur,

de la mousse des bois, non aplanie,
orchis et orchis, clairsemé,
de la verdure, plus tard, en voyage,
qui nous conduit, l’homme
qui, à cela, tend l’oreille,
les chemins
de rondins à demi
parcourus dans la fange,
de l’humide ,
Jean Daive pp.10-11 in Philipe L-L

Arnika, luminet, cette
gorgée du puits au
cube étoilé plus haut du dé

dans la hutte,
là, dans un livre
─les noms, de qui, relevés
avant le mien?─
là dans un livre,
lignes qui inscrivent
une attente, aujourd’hui,
de qui méditera (à venir, in-
cessamment venir)
un mot
du coeur

humus des bois, jamais aplani,
orchis, orchis,

chose crue, plus tard, chemin faisant,

qui nous voitera,
lui-même à son écoute,
à moitié
frayé de layon de rondins
l’à haut dans le marais,


Trad. André de Bouchet

A partir da versão inicial do poema, datada de Frankfurt am Main, 02-08-1967 pp.11-12


Artist couples: Josephine Nivison & Edward Hopper _ A Few Scattered Notes & Quotes


Edward Hopper, Reclining Nude, oil on canvas (1924)

Hopper turned forty-one in July; Nivison was just forty. In appearance and personality two people could hardly have been more different. She was not quite five feet one inch tall and weighed about a hundred pounds, while he stood nearly six feet fives inches and was as skinny as ever. Years later Nivison, who was often described as “lively, vivacious,” and “cute,” realled that “no one had ever called him either handsome or distinguished when I married him. It was the long, lean and hungry that got me”. (…)

She was gregarious, outgoing, sociable and talkative, while he was shy, quiet, solitary and introspective. (…)

They soon discovered their shared passion for French (…) Hopper years later reminisced about the happy days when they got together over Verlaine, Verhaeren [Les Heurs claires (1896), Les Heurs d’après-midi (1905), Les Heurs du soir (1911)] etc, etc, etc. An aspect of Verhaeren that parallel the future direction of Hopper’s art was described by Amy Lowell: “Verhaeren is no mere descriptive poet. Neither is he a surface realist. His realism contains the psychologic as well physiologic.”Even the titles with their focus on the qualities of times of day, parallel similar themes and conceptions already emergent in Hopper’s work.


Edward Hopper designed and painted a Christmas card for Josephine Nivison and he copied the last stanza of  Paul Verlaine, poem, "La Lune Blanche."

La lune blanche

luit dans les bois.

De chaque branche

part une voix

sous la ramée.

O bien aimé[e]....

L'étang reflète,

profond miroir,

la silhouette

du saule noir

où le vent pleure.

Rêvons, c'est l'heure.

Un vaste et tendre


semble descendre

du firmament

que l'astre irise.

C'est l'heure exquise!

Paul Verlaine

"French remained the language of romantic imagination for Edward and Jo all their lives, although their travels in search of new subjects would take them over further south and west in the new world and never back to Paris."

Gail Levin, Edward Hopper: An intimate Biography, "First Success:1923-1924," (Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1998) pp. 168 and 173.

An interesting article on Edward and Josephine: 

From here


Une belle chanson (3)

J'ai passé l'hiver
En attendant un mot
C'est comme le désert
Sans une goutte d'eau
La barque à l'envers
Posé sur les tréteaux
On voit au travers
Elle sert aux oiseaux

J'ai vu le printemps
Descendre l'horizon
Les bêtes et les gens
Sortir des maisons
Les oiseaux chanter
Sans qu'on sache pourquoi
Et j'étais toujours
Sans nouvelles de toi

Autour des maisons
Un autre été flamboie
Quelques oisillons
S'envolent déjà
Fragiles flocons
Face à l'apesanteur
Dans le bleu profond
Des grandes chaleurs

En haut des pylônes
Les oiseaux voyageurs
Attendent l'automne
Comme des guetteurs
Les fleurs et les hommes
En perdent leurs couleurs
Et toujours personne
Sur le répondeur

Les gens absents
C'est bien ça l'ennuyeux
Ils tournent tout le temps
Là devant nos yeux
On croyait défaire
L'étreinte d'un coup sec
Et puis finalement
On se réveille avec

Juste une question
Est-ce que ça dure toujours
Ces manies qu'ils ont
De tourner autour ?
On parle en dormant
Est-ce que c'est bien normal ?
Les gens absents
Tout leur est égal

J'ai passé l'hiver
C'est comme le désert
Le coeur à l'envers
On voit au travers

C'est quoi ces histoires
De fleurs, de saisons
D'oiseaux bizarres
Qui viennent et qui vont ?
Ce sont des détours
C'est pour que tu comprennes
Que je m'accroche
Aux choses qui reviennent

Tübingen, Janner (4) _ "Pallaksch, Pallaksch”_ Silke-Maria Weineck

Back to one of my obsessions ...

Emil Klein (1886)

Silke- Maria Weineck in the article "Logos and Pallaksch. The Loss of Madness and the Survival of Poetry in Paul Celan’s 'Tubingen, Janner' "[...] traces the movement of de-and remystification in Celan’s poem, Tübingen, Janner, a poem retelling the tales of madness that surround Holderlin," as she declared.


Celan’s poem is a poem that speaks of Holderlin as well as of his madness; it speaks of the danger of this specific legend, of the veil it draws over Holderlin’s words. It is a meditation both on madness and on a specific gaze on madness, a poem on reading and blindness, and, lastly, not on the power of madness over poetry, but of poetry over madness.

(...) and it closes with mad Holderlin’s sunken word:

“Pallaksch”* - or almost closes, for its last mark is a closing bracket. It is also, with equal force, a poem touching on madness. Its imagery is hallucinatory -swimming towers, visits of drowned carpenters, lightbeards. It is inhabited by voices and figures - by many more voices and shapes than appear on its surface, as the many excellent readings of this poem have shown. It moves from what has been conveniently called “hermetic” imagery towards stuttering, stammering, and babble. It quotes, as I will explain, two mad words, “immerzu” and “pallaksch.” Without doubt, madness is its most clearly drawn frame of reference, but it is not one single madness that is at stake here.

It is not only the title that layers meaning over meaning; a comparable exegesis could probably be given for every single line. There is a multiple memory written into this poem, memories of madnesses of radically different kinds. This condensation of various historical references could itself be read as a mad loss of location, a temporal disorientation, a loss of associative control. On the other hand, multiple evocation is, of course, a poetic prerogative, not mad by itself, and while the ancient association of poetry and madness may be partially grounded precisely in such parallel discursive practices, the multiple disorientations of Celans poem, for me, evoke an imposing poetic control rather than its loss. This poetic control in the face of madness, is, central to the poem. “Immer-, immer-/zuzu.” Towards what does the stammering language move? The next line after “zuzu” is blank (and the blankness of verse-breaks is never accidental in Celan’s poetry, never a mere convention). Towards silence, then? An openness towards nothingness? Not quite, for there is a remainder, even though this remainder of speech is triply qualified: “pallaksch” is not only a non-word, it is also not the poem’s word, but a quote from one who stopped speaking, from after poetry; it is doubled; lastly, the madman’s quoted nonword appears in brackets.

The pallaksch, as it appears in Tiibingen, Janner, repeats the gesture of opening and closing on another level. For while it does not mean anything, by itself, the nonword pallaksch which invades poetry (as madness, perhaps, invaded Holderlin’s poetic life) is also something of a biographical watchword, signalling to Holderlin readers that it is the late, the mad Holderlin who is at stake here, the Holderlin who, as his friend Schwab reported, refused If a human came - and the “if” implicit in the German subjunctive is repeated three times -, if a human came, and if he were of a certain quality, a quality associated with enlightened, prophetic, potentially biblical speech, with the “light beard of the patriarchs” - he would not be able, or allowed, to speak at all, he “might only babble.” Perpetually: “immer-,immer-/zuzu.” Here, the babbling, the lullen, already invades the poem. The “perpetually” of inzmerzu falls apart, into “immer-, immer-” and “zuzu.” A babbled word, a nonword. Also, in the repetition of “zu,” a doubling of closure - for “zu” means “shut” - and, at the same time, a negation of closure - for “zu” also means “towards.” It is this simultaneity of opening and closing that strikes me as most significant in this poem’s advance towards the madness implicit in its last word, pallaksch. The “immerzu” already is a mad word, and, like “pallaksch,” a quotation, although, unlike “pallaksch,” a silent one. It stems from Georg Buchner’s play Woyzeck, and Celan, in his Büchner-Preisrede, refers to “immerzu” as Woyzeck’s “Wahnsinnswort” (“word of madness”).
Woyzeck is haunted by it while he contemplates the murder of his fiancée Marie. Woyzeck’s hallucination itself is, again, a quotation: he overheard it when Marie cheered on her dance partner, “immer zu, immer zu,” - “faster,” “don’t stop,” “go on, go on!” Thus, “immerzu” enters Celan’s poem doubly mutated, as a memory of a memory, an allusion to an allusion, changing from innocuous flirtation to a murderous urge to the perpetuity of a broken language. In drawing Woyzeck’s Wahnsinnswort into the poem, Celan does not only strengthen the poem’s movement towards madness, he also obliquely refers to his famous Preisrede that centres on poetry’s movement towards silence. [...]

Silke-Maria Weineck,"Logos and Pallaksch. The Loss of Madness and the Survival of Poetry in Paul Celan’s 'Tubingen, Janner",Orhis Litterarum 54, (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor,1999),262-278.



O mar às vezes parece um véu diáfano, outras pó verde. Às vezes é dum azul transparente, outras cobalto. Ou não tem consistência e é céu, ou é confusão e cólera.

De manhã desvanece-se, de tarde sonha. E há dias de nevoeiro em que ele é extraordinário, quando a névoa espessa pouco e pouco se adelgaça, e surge atrás da última cortina vaporosa, todo verde, dum verde que apetece respirar. Diferentes verdes bóiam na água, esbranquiçados, transparentes, escuros, quase negros, misturados com restos de onda que se desfaz e redemoinha até ao longe. E ainda outros azulados, com a cor das podridões. Tudo isto graduado e dependendo do céu, da hora e das marés. Há momentos em que me julgo metido dentro duma esmeralda, e, depois, numa jóia esplêndida, dum azul único que se incendeia. Mas a luz morre, e a luz agonizando exala-se como um perfume. É uma grande flor que desfalece. O doirado não é simplesmente doirado, nem o verde simplesmente verde: possuem uma alma delicada e extática.

Raul Brandão, Os Pescadores, 1923