This ‘still-here’ can only mean speaking. Not language as such, but responding and not just verbally – ‘corresponding’ to something.
In other words: language actualized, set free under the sign of a radical individuation which, however, remains as aware of the limits drawn by language as of the possibilities it opens.
This ‘still-here’ of the poem can only be found in the work of poets who do not forget that they speak from an angle of reflection which is their own existence, their own physical nature.
This shows the poem yet more clearly as one person’s language become shape and, essentially, a presence in the present.
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?
I find something as immaterial as language, yet earthly, terrestrial, in the shape of a circle which, via both poles, rejoins itself and on the way serenely crosses even the tropics: I find a… meridian.
With you and Georg Büchner and the State of Hesse, I believe I have just touched it again.
— Celan (1960)
In his speech The Meridian the poet Paul Celan explains encountering language in poetry as a shape, direction, and breath. He describes poetry’s reach towards otherness, and how poetry stages an encounter with one’s self, a kind of homecoming to the self only through this unfinished reach towards otherness. At the end he says language is immaterial but earthly and terrestrial - it is a circle with poles that rejoin each other – a meridian, and he says, “I have touched it” to touch the meridian – is to touch the terrestrial, recursive shape of language, and we can imagine this as a kind of buccal touch. The lips make an 0 circle shape, and to speak is always to feel the work of language in and around the mouth. The stutter, I think – the way it returns us to words and sounds and syllables (what Celan calls a breath-turn), is an example of touching the meridian and having a queer relation to language.
- Celan, Paul (1960) The Meridian.