By Paul Celan
Your hand full of hours, you came to me – and I said:
‘Your hair is not brown.’
You lifted it, lightly,
on to the balance of grief,
it was heavier than I.
They come to you on their ships, and make it their load,
then put it on sale in the markets of lust.
You smile at me from the deep.
I weep at you from the scale that’s still light.
I weep: Your hair is not brown.
They offer salt-waves of the sea,
and you give them spume.
You whisper: ‘They’re filling the world with me now,
and for you I’m still a hollow way in the heart!
You say: ‘Lay the leaf-work of years by you, it’s time,
that you came here and kissed me.
The leaf-work of years is brown, your hair is not brown.
Paul Celan (/ˈsɛlæn/; 23 November 1920 – c. 20 April 1970) was a German language poet and translator. He was born as Paul Antschel to a Jewish family in Cernăuți (German: Czernowitz), in the then Kingdom of Romania (now Chernivtsy, Ukraine), and adopted the pseudonym "Paul Celan". (Celan in Romanian is pronounced Chelàn, and was derived from transposing the syllables of his surname). He became one of the major German-language poets of the post-World War II era.