A great poet is not someone who speaks in stadiums to a thousand listeners. A great poet is a very private person. In his privacy this poet creates a language in which he is able to speak, privately, to many people at the same time."
There was earth inside them, and
They dug and dug, and so
their day went past, their night. And they did not praise God,
who, so they heard, wanted all this,
who, so they heard, witnessed all this.
They dug and heard nothing more;
they did not grow wise, invented no song,
devised for themselves no sort of language.
There came a stillness then, came also storm,
all of the oceans came.
I dig, you dig, and it, the worm, digs too,
and the singing there says: They dig.
O one, O none, O no one, O you:
Where did it go, then, making for nowhere?
O you dig and I dig, and I dig through to you,
and the ring on our finger awakens.
translated from the German by John Felstiner
Homage to Paul Celan
edited by Ilya Kaminsky & G.C. Waldrep
Marick Press, 2011