Translation

Ingeborg Bachman--Austrian

    

Ingeborg Bachman
(1926-1973)

 

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.

 

Brotherhood

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
saved,
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

 

 

Gerrit Achterberg--Dutch

 

    

GerritAchterberg

(1905-1962)

Gerrit Achterberg was born in 1905 in Langbroek, in The Netherlands. During his lifetime he published thirty collections of poetry, an anthology, four volumes of collected poems, and translations of his work. Meisje, a small volume of poetry appeared in an underground publication from the agris occupatis (the occupied land). Achterberg used surreal language and imagery in his writing. His work was instrumental in influencing a generation of post-World War II poets who became known as the Experimentalists. He is credited as for often coining new words and is viewed as a linguistic innovator. In his early 30s Achterberg’s life became very unstable. He became infatuated with his landlady and her daughter. He wound up shooting the landlady and served six years in a psychiatric hospital as a result. He died in 1962.

 

Battlefield

The twilight falls like ground.
In Holland walks a hound.
A hound with very long teeth.
He goes through all the lands
a large and very black hound.

We're scattered all around.
No longer with one another.
What bound us together
died between our teeth.

 
 
Translation by Cliff Crego


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