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This article is taken from PN Review 108, Volume 22 Number 4, March - April 1996.

Paul Celan's Coagula Iain Galbraith

Coagula Coagula
Auch deine Rosa, your
Wunde, Rosa. wound as well.
Und das Hönerlicht deiner And the hornlight of your
rumänischen Büffel Romanian buffaloes
an Sternes Statt überm instead of stars above
Sandbett, im the sandbed, in
redenden rot- the talking, red-
aschengewaltigen ember-powerful
Kolben. rifle butt.
[translated by Michael Hamburger]

The following text retains the form of a letter written to Michael Hamburger on the occasion of his 70th birthday. It is revised here to commemorate the 25 th anniversary of Paul Celan 's death.

You will remember that one of the things we spoke of at Helen and David's house was Paul Celan's poem 'Coagula', and I promised then to send you a letter by Rosa Luxemburg to Sophie Liebknecht, written a few days before Christmas 1917. I enclose it herewith, along with two other items of interest: five pages on the word Kolben from Vol. 11 of J. & W. Grimm's Deutsches Wörterbuch, and an article by Elisabeth Hannover on the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. The full length documentation of the murders, referred to by Peter Szondi in his Celan Studies and read by Celan during his visit to Berlin at Christmas 1967, was also by Elizabeth Hannover-Drück and Heinrich Hannover.

Rosa Luxemburg's letter is a moving document. I imagine you will find it illuminating, too, especially after puzzling over Celan's poem for so long. Perhaps you ...


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