24 July 1966

Black milk of Black Notebooks still getting drunk 
morning, noon and night, too useful to discard,
the marginalia too horrible to ignore, the historical footnote
we drink and we drink until we vomit
we drink to our black ulcers in the humidity
Apollo driving his fiery chariot out of Peenemünde
digging graves in the smoke which is solid like a wall

An uneasy poet with stones in his pockets writes a
Todesfuge, the only poem of his they understand.
In Todtnauberg is a cabin where a
philosopher writes about being but understands nothing
he has amnesia like an architect who has forgotten
and plays with the vipers of language, he writes
as the sun tries to push above the horizon over Germany
The German language speaks Being,
while all the others merely speak of Being
your golden Arnica in the golden hair of Margarete
he steps outside, there is a star-die on the well from which is drawn
black water the bottomless well that can never be filled.
He greets the Jewish poet but no one can understand the poet
Making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy
and the philosopher is incapable of understanding
Being-alone is a deficient mode of being-with;
its possibility is a proof for the latter
The poet writes in the guestbook the philosopher
scratches something out in his notebook and commands the Jews
play tangos in Auschwitz and Birkenau.

The two are trapped in the poet’s most famous poem
the poem is culture and culture the poem is a prison
though they do not know it
caged in the eternal now of the only poem it is permitted
to write after Auschwitz.

Black milk, black water, black book, black eyes,
black blood we are still drinking
everything moves in relation to history
and even though the sun rises, the dark is always only
ever temporarily in retreat, oozing beneath the soil like oil
they write of the darkness that grew in the soul of Germany Margarete
the small white faces of Eyebright in the ashen hair of Shulamith
hair darkened with ash from the chimneys, from those ceased being
The human being is not the lord of beings, but the shepherd of Being
the poet has almonds in his trouser pockets like the almonds of Passover

The orchestras are playing in Auschwitz they are playing in Birkenau
they play a death fugue he grabs for the baton in his belt and commands
they play a tango in the shadow of death but music can’t melt him
his eyes are blue like ice his eyes are bright like steel
there is a blind spot, a streak in his vision
the orchestra is digging with their instruments
their anxiety makes them real
The human body is essentially something other than an animal organism 
the poet and the philosopher paths of batons along the moor
like a streak in the eye and consonants vibrate on the ear not understood
they lead each other up the garden paths
the poet will grant no Persil-passport while the orchis blushes
orchis the flower of thinkers and poets, bespattered with red
the almond-word shoots not in his heart
a black star above them a star-die a twisted cross

We are drunk on the black milk of the night and the new day
we drink until we can hold no more
those men who built their ivory towers of forgetfulness
those men who hid in the golden hair of Margarete garlanded in Arnica
from the ash-darkened hair of Shulamith lost in the small
sad white faces of Eyebright white like the moon
Apollo of poetry and reason reaches the moon but he got there
from Peenemünde, scattering ashes from his chariot over Germany
rising on smoke to the sky how do you like your blue-eyed boy?
I acknowledge Death, look him in the face and free myself of him
He shouts play a fugue better than Death is a philosopher from Germany
who forgets things Being and Nothing digging holes in history
Black poems black philosophy we are still drinking
not thinking, which is most thought-provoking
and maybe learning from drinking Death who was Master in Germany
Death was Master in Germany and they called him Apollo
their philosophy was Death and his eye bright is blue
he shoots you full of words: Every man is born as many men
and dies as a single one
his words are like balls of lead: only God can save us
his words are like bitter almonds
a man lives in a Hütte in the tarnished hair of Death Mountain
he looses his philosophy on us, his being and our nothing
he lives there still playing with the vipers of language and daydreaming
of once more being Master of Germany he digs in his garden

Your golden voice Paul Celan

Your Black Notebooks Professor Heidegger


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