Daniel Tobin

"Blood Labors is an ebullient and ecclesiastical wonder, capturing more of creation, the uncreated, the recreated than any dozen books on a poetry shelf.... All told, Blood Labors dazzles with its brilliance.
"In Tobin's able and reverent hands, Celan's work is given a new charge for our own times... moving, splendid, and a gifted work of translation." --Eamonn Wall
This is a memorable, tragic, and moving book that should be read by everyone who wonders how we got here and what our being here can mean." — Alan Shapiro
“These are very beautiful poems, and The Net is a very beautiful book—surpassingly so. The mastery evident in his uses of these resources is enviable.”—David Ferry
“Tobin's graceful movement between what's lost and the here-and-now, between earthy popular culture and metaphysical concerns is characteristic of…. a poet fast becoming one of his generation's finest.” —Ned Balbo, The Antioch Review
"These essays usefully identify a tradition of twentieth-century Atlantic Irish writing in both Irish literature and American. Tobin's commentaries will appeal both to the general reader . . . of poetry and to the academic reader who has an interest in American literature, Irish studies, and the conundra of hyphenate or hybrid subcultures. Tobin has already established the canon of poetry in that literature with The Book of Irish American Poetry. Awake in America promises to be a useful and popular companion to that book." —Thomas Dillon Redshaw, University of St. Thomas
Poetry Anthology
“...a prodigious and remarkable work of literary scholarship.” —Eamonn Wall
"Lola Ridge stood a little apart from the rest, with what it is not too much to characterize as her own genius." —William Rose Benét
"Poet's Work, Poet's Play has immense pedagogical value." —Laurence Goldstein, editor, Michigan Quarterly Review

The Stone in the Air

The Stone in the Air: A Suite of Forty Poems from the German of Paul Celan

Praise for The Stone in the Air

"The great Holocaust poet Paul Celan, whose mother and father died in an internment camp, and who himself was imprisoned in a work camp, has written some of the most memorable and mournful poems about death and loss. In these lucid and lyrical translations of Celan's poetry by Daniel Tobin, we are reminded that for Celan, `only one thing remained reachable, close and secure amid all losses: language.' This lyrical collection places Celan's poetry in an interpretive musical arrangement that reverberates with notes of metaphysical longing amidst the speaker's despair. It is both compelling and haunting, a testimony to the enduring power of language and poetry to confront the unspeakable." --Steven Schneider

"Daniel Tobin's new versions of Celan's poems, while building on the work of others, offer us new and nuanced approaches to the poetry underlined by a finely-tuned sense of tone, diction, syntax, and line. Tobin, as a poet and scholar who has always engaged with issues of faith, doubt, witness, and the presence of the past in the present, is an ideal interpreter of Celan's vision--his solitary candle as it burns in defiance of power."
--Eamonn Wall


Snow falling, dense as some poems, denser,
like yesterday, dove-colored,
snow falling, as though you still were sleeping,

the whole world piled into whiteness.
And beyond the world, endless—
the sleigh print of the desolate.

There, deep down, sheltered under that mountain:
what so harrows the eye—mound
after mound—burgeons upward invisibly.

From each, hammered home into its
own present, a pole, wooden,
an I that sinks away into muteness.

There, shuddered by ice and wind, it moors
itself to the dove-, to the snow-colored
fabric of what it feels, its only flag.


Imagine it:
Masada’s swamp soldier
hauling himself home
against the wire’s every thorn.

Imagine it:
the eyeless, the shapeless
rousing you to freedom
with their furious digging
until you strengthen
and rise.

Imagine it: your
own hand
has held a scrap
of earth,
more habitable, that
suffered upward again
into life.

Imagine it:
this was borne over to me—
a name awake, a hand awake
from the ones who will never be buried.


Every night the flowers purse their lips,
the pine trees’ shafts, wizened with moss,
cross, crisscross, the stones tremble
while over the glacier the jackdaws
rouse awake for the everlasting flight.

This is the country where those who left,
those we’ve overtaken, take their rest.
They will not reckon the pending hour,
they will not number the whirling flakes,
nor follow the river to the battlements.

They stand there, cut off from the world,
each one, like everyone, sealed into night,
each one, like everyone, sealed into death,
scowling, bare-headed, vested in the frost
of everything near, everything far off.

They carry a guilt bred from the source,
they carry it away and into a word
that endures, unjustly, like summer.
A word—you understand—a corpse.
Let’s wash it, groom it, fix its eyes to heaven.