Sheridan Burnside - The ‘Tenebrae’ Poems of Paul Celan and Geoffrey Hill 151
Sheridan Burnside The ‘Tenebrae’ Poems of Paul Celan and Geof frey Hill The first clear connection between the work of Geof frey Hill and Paul Celan is to be found in Tenebrae (1978), Hill’s fourth volume of poetry. Tenebrae includes free translations of two poems from Celan’s Die Niemandsrose (The Noonesrose, 1963), which Hill collectively terms ‘Two Chorale-Preludes: on melodies by Paul Celan’ (CP, pp. 165–6). E. M. Knottenbelt considers these to be a ‘double elegy’ for Celan,1 while Andrew Michael Roberts discusses the significance of musical form in Hill’s interpretation of Celan’s texts.2 A second substantial connection between Hill and Celan is felt through- out The Orchards of Syon (2002), where six of the sequence’s poems make explicit reference to Celan. He is named in poems XXVIII and LIII, and Hill refers repeatedly to ‘Atemwende’, which is the term Celan uses to define poetry in his Georg Büchner Prize speech of 1960, ‘Der Meridian’,3 and also the title of a volume of his poetry from 1967.4 The German word is a neologism and Hill remarks that it ‘beggars translation’, while experiment- ing with various possible renderings: ‘breath-hitch’ (XXVIII); ‘catch-breath, breath-ply’ (XXXI); ‘breath-fetch’ (XXXII); ‘turn / of breath’ (XXXVI); ‘breath-glitch’ (LI). Among other things, Celan’s ‘Atemwende’ refers to the 1 E. M. Knottenbelt, Passionate Intelligence: The Poetry of Geof frey Hill (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1990), pp. 249–52. 2 Andrew Michael Roberts, Geof frey Hill (Tavistock: Northcote House, 2004), pp. 25–7. 3 Paul Celan, Gesammelte Werke,...
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