Letter from Paul Celan

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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.