Letter from Paul Celan

All gladness, dear Nelly, all light!

Paris to Stockholm. My dear Nelly,
After that which happened, the no-longer,
your father’s hand gripped through barbed wire

then let slip away, your lines still glow
cool as white roses in rain. Fellow survivor,
brother, remember the sudden flash

when we two first met, dazzling the lake?
You, a disbeliever, looked for cause;
I knew it was divine, and prayed

for that gold to come back, as a sign
that we may breathe again in smokeless air.
The fires you saw burn on in my mind;

not to have been there magnifies the flame.
For you, though, all that remains of horror
is language washed of horror. In your lines,

white stones, frost, doves, icelight, snowlight,
the lightbringers, star that listens to light.
And in your letter, whose lesson is indelible:

after great loss, language is survival —
the fizz of dark waves that crash white
against dull rocks, the secret source of light,

the sun through fog, our not unjoyful days.

Grace Schulman

Grace Schulman

Grace Schulman's forthcoming book is Again the Dawn: New and Selected Poems, set for November, 2022 (Turtle Point Press). She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has received the Frost Medal for Distinguished Lifetime Achievement in American Poetry. Her eighth book of poems is The Marble Bed and her memoir is Strange Paradise: Portrait of a Marriage (both Turtle Point). Editor of The Poems of Marianne Moore (Viking), she is Distinguished Professor of English at Baruch College, C.U.N.Y.

Among her other honors are the Aiken Taylor Award for poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award, and five Pushcart Prizes. About her poems, Harold Bloom has written, "Grace Schulman has developed into one of the permanent poets of her generation." Schulman is former director of the Poetry Center, 92nd Street Y, 1974-84, and former poetry editor of The Nation, 1971-2006.
Grace Schulman

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Author: Grace Schulman

Grace Schulman's forthcoming book is Again the Dawn: New and Selected Poems, set for November, 2022 (Turtle Point Press). She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has received the Frost Medal for Distinguished Lifetime Achievement in American Poetry. Her eighth book of poems is The Marble Bed and her memoir is Strange Paradise: Portrait of a Marriage (both Turtle Point). Editor of The Poems of Marianne Moore (Viking), she is Distinguished Professor of English at Baruch College, C.U.N.Y. Among her other honors are the Aiken Taylor Award for poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award, and five Pushcart Prizes. About her poems, Harold Bloom has written, "Grace Schulman has developed into one of the permanent poets of her generation." Schulman is former director of the Poetry Center, 92nd Street Y, 1974-84, and former poetry editor of The Nation, 1971-2006.