Two by Ingeborg Bachmann

a danse macabre classique supplémentaire

A Kind of Loss

Shared: seasons, books, and music.
Keys, teacups, the breadbasket, linens and a bed.
A dowry of words, of gestures, carried along,
used up, spent.
House rules followed. Said. Done. And always
the extended hand.
In winter, in a Viennese septet, and in summer
I have been in love.
With maps, in a mountain hut, on a beach
and in a bed.
A cult made up of dates and irrevocable promises,
enraptured before something, reverent over nothing.
( — to the folded newspaper, the cold ashes, the note
on a piece of paper)
fearless in religion, for the church was this bed.
From the sea view came my unstoppable painting.
From my balcony I greeted the people, my neighbors, below.
By the open fire, in safety, my hair took on its deepest color.
The doorbell’s ring was the alarm for my joy.
It is not you I have lost,
but the world.

No Delicacies

Nothing pleases me anymore.
Should I
dress up a metaphor
with an almond blossom?
crucify syntax
on a trick of light?
Who would break his head
over such superfluous things?
I have learned some consideration
for words
that are there
(for the lowest class)
With rough sobbing
with despair
(and still I despair before despair)
over so much misery,
so many ill, such high cost of living,
I will get by.
I don’t neglect writing
but myself.
The others know,
god knows,
to help themselves with words.
I am not my assistant.
Should I
imprison a thought,
lead it into an illuminated sentence cell?
Feed eye and ear
with choice word tidbits?
Explore the libido of a vowel,
determine the sentimental value of a consonant?
With this battered head,
with a writing cramp in this hand,
under three hundred nights’ pressure,
must I
tear up this paper,
sweep away the contrived word operas,
thus annihilating: I you and he she it
we you?
(Yes, I must. The others must.)
My part must be lost.


Translated by Joan Harvey

DM 87 publicite


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