'Edward Hirsch begins his beautiful How to Read a Poem (Harcourt Brace, 1999) in Celan’s heartland. Imagine yourself on the shore, he writes, foraging among ‘seaweed and rotten wood, the crushed cans and dead fish’, finding an ‘unlikely looking bottle from the past’. The message inside has been making its way towards someone for a long time, and now ‘that someone turns out to be you’. He quotes ‘On the Interlocutor’, Osip Mandelstam’s 1913 essay about a similar wave-dumped poem: ‘The message in the bottle was addressed to its finder. I found it. That means, I have become its secret addressee.’ Poems, for Mandelstam, are composed for ‘a reader in posterity’; for Celan, perhaps for a reader he refers to as the ‘addressable thou’.' (Introduction)
Epigraph: A poem…can be a message in a bottle, sent out in the – not always greatly hopeful – belief that somewhere and sometime it could wash up on land, on heartland perhaps. Poems in this sense, too, are under way: they are making toward something.
– Paul Celan, Selected Poetry and Prose