Ever feel like you can’t find a foothold?
Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), Piano Concerto (1942); Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (Jeffrey Tate, cond.) with Mitsuko Uchida (piano), live
Aspen tree, your leaves glance white into the dark.
My mother’s hair was never white.
Dandelion, so green is the Ukraine.
My yellow-haired mother did not come home.
Rain cloud, above the well do you hover?
My quiet mother weeps for everyone.
Round star, you wind the golden loop.
My mother’s heart was ripped by lead.
Oaken door, who lifted you off your hinges?
My gentle mother cannot return.
—Paul Celan (1920-1970; translated from German by Michael Hamburger)