Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ingeborg Bachmann

Every Day
by Ingeborg Bachmann

War is no longer declared,
but rather continued. The courageous
has become the everday. The hero
is absent from the battle. The weak
are moved into the firing zone.
The uniform of the day is patience,
the order of merit is the wretched star
of hope over the heart.

It is awarded
when nothing more happens,
when the bombardment is silenced,
when the enemy has become invisble
and the shadow of eternal armament
covers the sky.

It is awarded
for deserting the flag,
for bravery before a friend,
for the betrayal of shameful secrets
and the disregard
of every command.

tranlated by Peter Filkins

Borrowed Time
by Ingeborg Bachmann

Harder days are coming.
The loan of borrowed time
will be due on the horizen.
Soon you must lace up your boots
and chase the hounds back to the marsh farms.
For the entrails of fish
have grown cold in the wind.
Dimly burns the light of lupines.
Your gaze makes out in fog:
the loan of borrowed time
will be due on the horizon.

There your loved one sinks in sand;
it rises up to her windblown hair,
it cuts her short,
it commands her to be silent,
it discovers she's mortal
and willing to leave you
after every embrace.

Don't look around.
Lace up your boots.
Chase back the hounds.
Throw the fish into the sea.
Put out the lupines!

Harder days are coming.

tranlated by Peter Filkins

A Kind of Loss
by Ingeborg Bachmann

Used together: seasons, books, a piece of music.
The keys, teacups, bread basket, sheet and a bed.
A hope chest of words, of gestures, brought back, used, used up.
A household order maintained. Said. Done. And always a head was there.
I've fallen in love with winter, with a Viennese septet, wiht summer.
With Village maps, a mountain nest, a beach and a bed.
Kept a calender cult, declared promises irrevocable,
bowed before something, was pious to a nothing

(-to a folded newspaper, cold ashes, the scribbled piece of paper),
fearless in religion, for our bed was the church.

From my lake view arose my inexhaustible painting.
From my balcony I greeted entire peoples, my neighbors.
By the chimney fire, in safety, my hair took on its deepest hue.
The ringing at the door was the alarm for my joy.

It's not you I've lost,
but the world.

Tranlated from the German by Mark Anderson

by Ingeborg Bachmann

But where are we going
carefree be carefree
when it grows dark and when it grows cold
be carefree
with music
what should we do
cheerful and with music
and think
in facing the end
with music
and to where do we carry
best of all
our questions and dread of all the years
to the dream laundry carefree be carefree
but what happens
best of all
when dead silence

sets in

tranlated by Peter Filkins

by Ingeborg Bachmann


Be silent with me, as all bels are silent!

In the afterbirth of terror
the rabble grovles for new nourishment.
On Good Friday a hand hangs on display
in the firmament, tow fingers missing,
and it cannot swear that all of it,
all of it didn't happen, and nothing
ever will. It dives into red clouds,
whisks off the new murderers
and goes free.

Each night on this earth
open the windows, fold back the sheets
so that the invalid's secret lies naked,
a sore full of sustenace, endless pain
for every taste.

Gloved butchers cease
the breath of the naked;
the moon in the doorway falls to earth;
let the shards lie, the handle ....

All was prepared for the last rites.
(The sacrament cannot be completed.)


How vain it all is.
Roll into a city,
rise from the city's dust,
take over a post
and diguise yourself
to avoid exposure

Fulfill the promises
before a tarnished mirror in the air,
before a shut door in the wind.

Untraveled are the paths on the steep slope of heaven.


O eyes, scorched by th Earth's reservoir of sun,
weighted with the rain of all eyes,
and now absorbed, interwoven
by the tragic spiders
of the present ...


In the hollow of my muteness
lay a word
and grow tall forests on both sides,
such that my mouth
lies wholly in shade.

tranlated by Peter Filkins

Songs from an Island
Ingeborg Bachmann

Shadow fruit is falling from the walls,
moonlight bathes the house in white, and the ash
of extinct craters is borne in by the sea winnd.

In the embrace of handsome youths
the coasts are sleeping.
Your flesh remembers mine,
it was already inclined to me,
when the ships
loosened themselves from shore and the cross
of our mortal burden
kept watch in the rigging.

Now the execution sites are empty,
they search but cannot find us.


When you rise from the dead,
when I rise fromt the dead,
no stone will lie before the gate,
no boat will rest on the sea.

Tomorrow the casks will roll
toward Sunday waves,
we come on anointed

soles to the shore, wash
the grapes and stamp
the harvest into wine,
tomorrow, on the shore.

When you rise from the dead,
when I rise from the dead,
the hangman will hang at the gate,
the hammer will sink into the sea.


One day the feast must come!
Saint Anthony, you who have suffered,
Saint Leonard, you who have suffered,
Saint Vitus, you who have suffered.

Make way for our prayers, way fro the worshippers,
room for music and joy!
We have learned simplicity,
we sing in the choir of cicadas,
we eat and drink,
the lean cats
rub against our table,
until evening mass begins
I hold your hand
with my eyes,
and a quiet, brave heart
sacrifices its wishes to you

Honey and nuts for the childern,
teeming nets for the fishermen,
fertility for the gradens,
moon for the volcano, moon for the volcano!

Our sparks leapt over the borders,
above the night fireworks fanned their
tails, the procession
floats away on dark rafts and gives
time to the primeval world,
to the plodding lizards,
to the carnivorous plant,
to the feverish fish,
to the orgies of wind and the lust
of mountains where a pious
star loses its way, collides with their face
and dissolves into dust.

Stand firm, you follish saints.
Tell the mainland the craters aren't resting!
Saint Roch, you who have suffered,
oh you who have suffered, Saint Francis.


When someone departs he must throw his hat,
filled with the mussels he spent the summer
gathering, in the sea
and sail off with his hair in the wind,
he must hurl the table,
set for his love, in the sea,
he must pour the wine,
left in his glass, into the sea,
he must give his bread to the fish
and mix a drop of his blood with the sea,
he must drive his knife deep into the waves
and sink his shoes,
heart, anchor and cross,
and sail off with his hair in the wind.
Then he will return.
Do not ask.


There is fire under the earth,
and the fire is pure.

There is fire under the eart
and molten rock.

There is a torrent under the earth,
it will stream into us.

There is a torrent under the earth.
it will scorch our bones.

A great fire is coming,
a torrent is coming over the earth.

We shall be witnesses.

Translated for the German by Mark Anderson

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