Ingeborg Bachmann’s Poetry in translation by Mary O’Donnell 1.

FREIGHT

 
Summer’s great cargo is loaded,
the sun-freight lies ready in the dock,
even if a gull cries and plunges behind you.
Summer’s great cargo is loaded.
 
The sun-freight lies ready in the dock,
the smiles of lemurs are unveiled
on the lips of those on the galley.
The sun-freight lies ready in the dock.
 
Even if a gull cries and plunges behind you,
the command to go down comes from the West;
wide-eyed, you’ll drown in light nonetheless,
even if a gull cries and plunges behind you.
 
Freight is © Ingeborg Bachmann. This translation is © Mary O’Donnell
 

FOGLAND

 
In winter my lover thrives
among the forest creatures.
The laughing fox knows I must return
before morning.
How the clouds tremble! And a layer
of broken ice falls on me
from the snow craters.
 
In winter my lover
is a tree among trees inviting
the melancholic crows
to its lovely branches. She knows
that at dusk, the wind will raise
her stiff adorned evening gown
and chase me home.
 
In winter my lover
swims mute among the fish.
On the bank, I stand in thrall to waters,
caressed from within
by the stroke of her fins.
I watch as she dips and turns,
till banished by the floes.
 
And warned once more by the shriek
of the bird that arcs stiffly
above, I head for the open field: there
she plucks the hens bald,
throws me a white collarbone.
I wield it to my throat,
make my way through the scattered plumage.
 
A faithless lover, as well I know,
at times she sweeps into town
in her high-heels,
she parades herself in bars, the straw
from her glass deep in her mouth,
the mot juste tripping from her lips.
I do not understand this language.
 
I have seen fog-land,
I have eaten the smoke-screened heart.
 
from Anrufen des Großen Bären/Invoking the Great Bear by Ingeborg Bachmann ©. This translation is © Mary O’Donnell

Mary O' Donnellbachmann