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The sight of the songbirds at dusk,

through a ring of

ungraphed space,

made me promise myself weapons.

The sight of weapons, hands;

the sight of hands, the line

long since described by a flat, sharp


- you, wave,

carried it here, sharpened it,

you, Un-

losable One, gave yourself to it,

you, beach sand, are the taker,


you, shore-grass, drift

your share -

the line, the line

we swim through, twice each

millennium, tied up

in each other,

and not even the sea,

sublime unfathomable sea

that runs alive through us,

can believe

all the singing in our fingers.

The sight of the songbirds at dusk

Nikolai Popov & Heather McHugh, translation from
the German written by Paul Celan

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