on keeping language unsplit

The greatness of Paul Celan’s poetic achievement is largely untranslatable, but we can catch glimpses of it now and then. One of Celan’s themes, I think, was how we use language to objectivize the political dilemmas surrounding us, forever isolating us from one another, and whether we can sufficiently purify and revitalize language so that we can, if only for a while, truly apprehend others, and ourselves.
 
Speak, You Also

Speak, you also,
speak as the last,
have your say.
 
Speak —
But keep yes and no unsplit.
And give your say this meaning:
give it the shade.
 
Give it shade enough,
give it as much
as you know has been dealt out between
midnight and midday and midnight.
 
Look around:
look how it all leaps alive —
where death is! Alive!
He speaks truly who speaks the shade.
 
But now shrinks the place where you stand:
Where now, stripped by shade, will you go?
Upward. Grope your way up.
Thinner you grow, less knowable, finer.
Finer: a thread by which
it wants to be lowered, the star:
to float farther down, down below
where it sees itself gleam: in the swell
of wandering words.

Paul
Celan, Poems of Paul Celan (translated by Michael Hamburger)
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