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About this Poem 

"As I wrote this poem, I was thinking, or trying to think, about wars, especially the horrors of our recent wars, and about individual and collective responsibility. But the whole time I was also thinking about Paul Celan’s work--that I don't understand it at all, that I love it, that loving it feels wrong--and about individual and collective responsibility."
--Shane McCrae

The Best Thing Anyone Ever Said About Paul Celan

Today you will the     say the any ever

best thing any ever anyone

Said about Paul Celan

The world is if it isn’t     does it matter isn’t



waiting     or it might be might as well

Be if it knew     and some

People for some     people the wait is mostly it’s

a world in which the fact of Paul Celan



was and is always will have been and be

A fact and necessary     living in such a world

is the far greater agony the wait is no

agony     not compared to living in that world it is



Absurd to say he wouldn’t Paul Celan would recognize it still

No person ever is naive

but populations are naive and always will be

even innocent



is the far greater agony

It is     / More like a toothache

the pain of the wait for some

More like a pain in the hole from which



You even now prepare yourself to speak

Copyright © 2013 by Shane McCrae. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on May 15, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Shane McCrae. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on May 15, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Shane McCrae

Shane McCrae

Shane McCrae is the author of six poetry collections, including The Gilded Auction Block (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).  

by this poet

poem

America I was I think I was

Seven I think or anyway I prob-

ably was    nine    I anyway was nine

 

And riding in the back    seat of our tan

Datsun 210    which by the way Amer-

ica I can’t believe    Datsun is just

 

Gone    anyway   America I was

Riding in

poem

The shadow I had carried lightly has

Been forced upon me now and heavy since

Bulky since     now and since unwieldy as

A corpse the shadow I     was born from in

 

And to I     should have known I couldn’t being

As how it wasn’t me who lifted it

Not     all the way     from

2
poem
The hastily assembled angel saw
One thing was like another thing and that
Thing like another everything     depend-
ed on     how high it was     the place you saw

Things from     and he had seen the Earth from where
A human couldn’t see the Earth     and could-
n’t tell most human things apart    and though
He
2