Ingeborg Bachman--Austrian


Ingeborg Bachman


Ingeborg Bachmann was born in Austria in 1926. She studied philosophy, psychology, philology and law at several universities, finally receiving a Ph.D. in philosophy. After graduation she began work as a scriptwriter and editor at a radio station, and simultaneously started her writing career. Early in her career Bachmann became a member of Gruppe 47 whose prestigious members included Paul Celan, Heinrich Böll and Gunter Grass. After the war she moved to Rome where she continued to write poetry, essays, opera libretti and short stories. She died in 1973 in a tragic fire. The German magazine, Die Spiegel declared Bachmann’s poetry, “A stenograph of its time.” She is recognized as one of German literature’s most important pre-war writers.



Each and every thing cuts wounds,

and neither of us has forgiven the other.
Hurting like you and hurtful,
I lived towards you.

Every touch augments
the pure, the spiritual touch;
we experience it as we age,
turned into coldest silence.

Translated by Johannes Beilharz


After this Deluge


After this deluge
I wish to see the dove
nothing but the dove.

I would drown in this sea
if it did not fly away,
if it did not return with the leaf
in the final hour.

Translated by Johannes Beilharz


Every Day
War is no longer declared:
Just continued. The unheard-of
has become the quotidian.
The hero weasels out.
The weakling is at the front.
The uniform of the day is simply patience.
The highest decoration is the pathos of a star
of hope above the heart.
It is awarded
when nothing happens,
when the drum finale of the artillery falls silent,
when the enemy has become invisible,
when the eternal armament’s shadow
darkens the heaven.
It is awarded
for deserting the flag.
For courage in the face of a friend.
For betraying the secrets that shame us.
For the absolute disregard
of any and every order.
Translated by Eavan Boland