Paul Celan: “With Your Hand Full of Hours”

With Your Hand Full of Hours

With your hand full of hours, you came to me.
I said: “Your hair is not brown.”
You placed it lightly on the scales of suffering.
It was heavier than I am.

They come for you on ships, loaded down with your hair.
They bargain for it everywhere in the markets of lust.
You smile at me from the depths of your soul.
I weep from my shell (such an easy thing to do.)
I weep: “Your hair is not brown.”

They offer you the waters of the sea,
and you give them the waves of your hair in return.
You whisper: “They are filling the world with me now,
and still I’m nothing to you but a hole in your heart!”
You say: “Lay down the leaf-work of the years.
It’s time for you to come kiss me.”

The leaf-work of the years is brown.
Your hair is not brown.

Paul Celan

Translated from German by Paul Weinfield, © 2014

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