Category Archives: Waldrop

Sometimes we have to wait for years

Dreams, like memories, are shores we row toward to escape the ever same tomorrows and their cruel futility. Days which cannot express themselves are grey and cold. Mute days whose untidy gestures tear us apart.

I have the impression of moving in the shadow of syllables, in regions before secrets, where language cannot yet answer the call of thought, in swamps where you risk sinking with every breath.

“Sometimes we have to wait for years,” said Red Tain, “before the minute which marked us finds its voice again. But then it speaks, and we cannot stop the flow of words.”

— Jabès, The Book of Questions Vol. 1 (tr. Waldrop)

The mystery of encounter

The poem is lonely. It is lonely and en route. Its author stays with it. Does this very fact not place the poem already here, at its inception, in the encounter, in the mystery of encounter?

The poem intends another, needs this other, needs an opposite. It goes toward it, bespeaks it. For the poem, everything and everybody is a figure of this other toward which it is heading.


The poem becomes conversation – often desperate conversation.

— Celan, The Meridian (tr. Waldrop)

The fact that I am a woman clearly shapes my writing: thematically, in attitude, in awareness of social conditioning, marginality—but does not determine it exclusively. The writer, male or female, is only one partner in the process of writing. Language, in its full range, is the other, and is beyond gender […] The language a poet enters into belongs as much to the mothers as to the fathers.

— Waldrop, via here