“With All My Thoughts” is a poem of nineteen lines broken up into four stanzas. The first three stanzas are of four lines each, while the last stanza, breaking this pattern, is seven lines long. The poem does not follow a set rhyme scheme or syllabic pattern, either in the original German or in the English translation. Rather, the music of the poem arises from the sense it creates of being a transcription of the poet’s inner thoughts.
The poem’s title is incorporated into the opening line of the first stanza. Much of Paul Celan’s earlier poetry is titled in the conventional way, but as his work progressed he increasingly shifted to this other mode of presentation. Incorporating the title directly into the poem makes it seem more immediate and strangely anonymous, like a message found in a bottle or an inscription on a monument overgrown with weeds.
In keeping with this sense of anonymity, the poem is written in the first person and addressed to some other, although the poet never makes entirely clear who this other is. Equally strange is the poet’s declaration in the first stanza that in order to meet this “quietopen one” he had to go “out of the world.” Immediately, it becomes clear that the poet is not concerned with presenting a concrete depiction of a “real-life” event. While the situation of the poem is deeply dramatic, the drama occurs on some level beyond that of strictly representational action. The enigmatic...
(The entire section is 509 words.)