Your hair too hovers above the sea with the golden juniper.
With it, it turns white, then I dye it stone-blue:
the color of the city where last I was dragged to the south . . .
With ropes they bound me and tied a sail to each one
and spat upon me from foggy mouths and sang:
“O come over the sea!”
But I as a pinnace paint the wings purple
and rattled the breeze to myself and, ere they slept, put to sea.
I was to dye them red, your locks, but loved them stone-blue:
O eyes of the city, where I fell and was dragged southward!
With the golden juniper your hair too hovers above the sea.
Excerpted from Memory Rose into Threshold Speech by Paul Celan, translated from the German by Pierre Joris. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Translation, Introduction, and Commentary copyright © 2020 by Pierre Joris. All rights reserved.