Message in a bottle

Paul Celan once described a poem as "a letter in a bottle thrown to sea with the-surely not always strong-hope that it may somehow wash up somewhere, perhaps on the shoreline of the heart." Osip Mandelstam likened the poet to "the shipwrecked sailor who throws a sealed bottle into the sea at a critical moment," and a poem to a "testament of the deceased" that will find "its secret addressee."

The hope incarnated in poetry took on...

The remainder of this article is only available to paid subscribers.

Print subscribers to Commonweal are entitled to free access to all premium online content. Click here to purchase a print subscription, or if you’re already a print subscriber, register now for premium access.

Online-only subscriptions provide access to all premium online articles for just $34/year or $2.95/month. Click here to subscribe.

Registered users, please log in below:

Or log in with...