Saturday, 25 June 2016

Ingeborg Bachmann (25/6/27 - 17/6/74 ) - Five poems

Born in Klagenfurt, Carinthia, Austrian poet and writer, the first child of Mathias and Olga Bachmann (née Haas). Her father was a middle-school language teacher and later principal.  Ingeborg Bachmann saw Nazi troops march through her town when she was 12 years old, after the annexation of Austria. a traumatic experience in which she wrote “The pain came too early and was perhaps stronger than anything since. . . the monstrous brutality, one could feel it, the yelling, singing and marching, an attack, the first, of deathly anxiety.”  Like the poet Sylvia  Plath of “Daddy” and “Little Fugue,” this  Aryan poet came to despise her father (in Bachmann’s case a bona fide Fascist) and to identify with the Nazis’ Jewish victims.
During her lifetime Bachmann, was known first and foremost as a poet, but she ceased to write poetry in the 1960s and focused on prose. In these later works feminist themes came to the fore. Bachmann was a reclusive, but socially engaged writer. Most of the fifties and from 1965 onward, she lived in Rome. She studied law at the universities of Innsbruck, Graz, and Vienna, where she completed her doctoral dissertation on the philosopher Martin Heidegger in 1950. During this period she had a love affair with the poet Paul Celan.There close and personal intellectual relationship would endure until Celan's death in 1971.In September 1950 she will mention her first nervous breakdown and tell Celan that she is lost, desperate and embittered. She wrote: "I have such desire for a little comfort " and she entreats him: "Please try to be good to me and hold me tight!"

Bachmann and Celan

Often in her work she used  death as a motif and with reflections on the hidden forces of violence and oppression in society. She was appalled and yet fascinated by the fact that crimes against humans were being committed on such a large scale also outside of the boundaries of war. "Since long have I pondered the question of where fascism has its origin. It is not born with the first bombs, neither through the terror one can describe in every newspaper … its origin lies in the relations between a man and a woman, and I have tried to say … in this society there is permanently. "
Bachmann worked as a scriptwriter and editor for the radio station Rot-Weisz-Rot plays between 1951 and 1953. Her first collection of poetry, Die gestundete Zeit (1953), was awarded the Group 47 Prize.After meeting the German composer Hans Werner Henze in Niendorf, Bachmann moved to Italy, where she lived with Henze on the Island Ischia,  working on poems, essays and short stories as well as opera libretti in collaboration, which soon brought with them international fame and numerous awards. She also spent some time as a visiting scholar at Harvard University in the United States. While in Italy in 1954-1955, she wrote political columns under the pseudonym Ruth Keller for the Westdeutschen Allgemeinen Zeitung. In 1958 she met the Swiss writer Max Frisch in Paris; their relationship lasted until the early 1960s. Following the end of her relationship with him she suffered a nervous breakdown. It would have a big impact on her.
From 1962 Bachmann lived  variously in Munich, Berlin, Zürich and Rome, breaking her somewhat reclusive lifestyle with her social and political activities. Bachmann was a member of a committee that opposed atomic weapons, and she signed a declaration against the Vietnam war.
At the age of 33, Bachmann was appointed to the newly created position as chair of poetics at the University of Frankfurt, where she lectured on poetry and the existential situation of the writer. She only published  few poems over a period of almost a decade. In mid-1960s she travelled in Egypt and Sudan. On the invitation of the literature critic and professor Hans Mayer she travelled in 1960 together with Hans Magnus Enzensberger and Walter Jens to the German Democratic Republic.
For her partly autobiographical work Das dreißigste Jahr Bachmann received in 1964 the Berlin Critics Prize. In the same year she also received the prestigious Georg Büchner Prize and was introduced into the West Berlin Academy of Arts. Four years later she was awarded the Austrian National Medal. In the spring of 1973 she gave a series of readings in Poland and visited the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau.
Bachmann's poetry showed the influence of classic antiquity, surrealism, and such diverse writers as Klopstock and Rilke. She often dealt with the difficulties of love, guilt, and mindless forces that can break frail human relationships. The tone of her poems, written in precise and formally elegant style, is mostly somber. Dark, powerful images refer to private anguished experiences, problems of identity, contemporary social events, and mythology. "Great Bear, come down, shaggy night, / cloud-coated beast with the old eyes, star eyes. / Through the thickets your paws break / shimmering with their claws, / star claws." (from Anrufung des Großen Bären) Often she had visions of future catastrophes: "Worse days are coming. / The time allotted for disavowals / Comes due the skyline. / Soon you will lace up your shoes / And drive the dogs back to the marshes." (from 'The Time Allotted')
Bachmann died tragically in Rome on October 17, 1973, aged 47 three weeks after she had been badly burned in a fire in her apartment attributed to an unextinguished cigarette,combined with complications to her addiction to prescription drugs. The German tabloid BILD wrote of the news of her death: "She died, as if she had thought it up herself." In 'Curriculum vitae'
After 1967 Bachmann almost stopped writing poetry and turned to prose  In her prose works Bachmann moved more on the social level, although her writing were highly introspective and used lyrical elements. Fascist threats, the interplay of ego and alter-ego, and women's experiences in a hostile, patriarchal society, were recurrent themes.
Since the publication of her collected poems in 1978 the characterization of Bachmann as a lost poet  has been increasingly challenged by a more politically charged view of social and literary concerns.She would become an inspiration to later feminist writers because her work probed the issues that defined the agenda of women writers. She is considered today one of the mot talented German - Austrian writers of the 20th century. I find her work profoundly moving, delicate that have over the years struck a chord within so on what would have been her birthday here's a few poems from her. Hope you enjoy as much as me.

A Kind of Loss

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

To the Sun - Ingeborg Bachmann

 More beatiful than the remarkable moon and her noble light,
More beautiful than the stars, the famous medals of the night,
More beautiful than the fiery entrance a comet makes,
And called to a part far more splendid than any other planet's
Because daily your life and my life depend on it, is the sun.

Beautifu sun that rises, his work not forgotten,
And completes it, most beautifully in summer, when a day
Evaporates on the coast, and effortlessly mirrored the sails
Pass through your sight, till you tire and cut short the last.

Without the sun even art takes the veil again,
You cease to appear to me, and the sea and the sand,
Lashed by shadows, take refuge under my eyelids.

Beautiful light, that keeps us warm, preserves us, marvellously makes sure
That I see again and that I see you again!

Nothing more beautiful under the sun than to be under the sun . . .

Nothing more beautiful than to see the stick in water and the bird above,
Pondering his flight, and, below, the fishes in shoals,

Coloured, moulded, brought into the world with a mission of light,
And to see the radius, the square of a field, my landscape's thousand angles

and the dress you have put on. And yourdress, bell-shaped and blue!
Beautiful blue, in which peacocks walk and bow,

Blue of far places, the zones of joy with weathers that suit my mood,
Blue chance on the horizon! and my enchanted eyes
Dilate again and blink and burn themselves sore.

Beautiful sun, to whom dust owes great admiration yet,
Not for the moon, therefore, and not for the stars, and not
Because night shows off with comets, trying to fool me,
But for your sake, and endlessly soon, and for you above all

I shall lament the inevitable loss of my sight.

I step outside myself - Ingeborg Bachmann

 I step outside
myself, out of my eyes,
hands, mouth, outside
of myself I
step, a bundle
of goodness and godliness
that must make good
this devilry
that has happened.

I know no better world  

 Who knows of a better world should step forward.
Alone, no longer out of bravery, not wiping away this saliva,
this saliva worn upon the cheek
as if to a coronation, as if redeemed, whether at communion
or among comrades. The weak rabbit,
the rat, and those fallen there, all of them,
no longer alone, but as one, though still afraid,
the dream of returning home
in the dream of armament, in the dream
of returning home.


Now the journey is ending,
the wind is losing heart.
Into your hands it’s falling,
a rickety house of cards.
The cards are backed with pictures
displaying all the world.
You’ve stacked up all the images
and shuffled them with words.
And how profound the playing
that once again begins!
Stay, the card you’re drawing
is the only world you’ll win.

Earlier post can be found here :-

No comments:

Post a Comment