Psalm Poem by Ingeborg Bachmann


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Be silent with me, as all bells are silent!

In the afterbirth of terror
the rabble grovels for new nourishment.
On Good Friday a hand hangs on display
in the firmament, two fingers missing,
and it cannot swear that all of it,
all of it didn't happen, and nothing
ever will. It dives into red clouds,
whisks off the new murderers
and goes free.

Each night on this earth
open the windows, fold back the sheets
so that the invalid's secret lies naked,
a sore full of sustenance, endless pain
for every taste.

Gloved butchers cease
the breath of the naked;
the moon in the doorway falls to earth;
let the shards lie, the handle....

All was prepared for the last rites.
(The sacrament cannot be completed.)


How vain it all is.
Roll into a city,
rise from the city's dust,
take over a post
and diguise yourself
to avoid exposure

Fulfill the promises
before a tarnished mirror in the air,
before a shut door in the wind.

Untraveled are the paths on the steep slope of heaven.


O eyes, scorched by th Earth's reservoir of sun,
weighted with the rain of all eyes,
and now absorbed, interwoven
by the tragic spiders
of the present...


In the hollow of my muteness
lay a word
and grow tall forests on both sides,
such that my mouth
lies wholly in shade.

tranlated by Peter Filkins

Songs from an Island
Ingeborg Bachmann

Shadow fruit is falling from the walls,
moonlight bathes the house in white, and the ash
of extinct craters is borne in by the sea winnd.

In the embrace of handsome youths
the coasts are sleeping.
Your flesh remembers mine,
it was already inclined to me,
when the ships
loosened themselves from shore and the cross
of our mortal burden
kept watch in the rigging.

Now the execution sites are empty,
they search but cannot find us.


When you rise from the dead,
when I rise from the dead,
no stone will lie before the gate,
no boat will rest on the sea.

Tomorrow the casks will roll
toward Sunday waves,
we come on anointed

soles to the shore, wash
the grapes and stamp
the harvest into wine,
tomorrow, on the shore.

When you rise from the dead,
when I rise from the dead,
the hangman will hang at the gate,
the hammer will sink into the sea.


One day the feast must come!
Saint Anthony, you who have suffered,
Saint Leonard, you who have suffered,
Saint Vitus, you who have suffered.

Make way for our prayers, way fro the worshippers,
room for music and joy!
We have learned simplicity,
we sing in the choir of cicadas,
we eat and drink,
the lean cats
rub against our table,
until evening mass begins
I hold your hand
with my eyes,
and a quiet, brave heart
sacrifices its wishes to you

Honey and nuts for the childern,
teeming nets for the fishermen,
fertility for the gradens,
moon for the volcano, moon for the volcano!

Our sparks leapt over the borders,
above the night fireworks fanned their
tails, the procession
floats away on dark rafts and gives
time to the primeval world,
to the plodding lizards,
to the carnivorous plant,
to the feverish fish,
to the orgies of wind and the lust
of mountains where a pious
star loses its way, collides with their face
and dissolves into dust.

Stand firm, you foolish saints.
Tell the mainland the craters aren't resting!
Saint Roch, you who have suffered,
oh you who have suffered, Saint Francis.


When someone departs he must throw his hat,
filled with the mussels he spent the summer
gathering, in the sea
and sail off with his hair in the wind,
he must hurl the table,
set for his love, in the sea,
he must pour the wine,
left in his glass, into the sea,
he must give his bread to the fish
and mix a drop of his blood with the sea,
he must drive his knife deep into the waves
and sink his shoes,
heart, anchor and cross,
and sail off with his hair in the wind.
Then he will return.
Do not ask.


There is fire under the earth,
and the fire is pure.

There is fire under the eart
and molten rock.

There is a torrent under the earth,
it will stream into us.

There is a torrent under the earth.
it will scorch our bones.

A great fire is coming,
a torrent is coming over the earth.

We shall be witnesses.

Fabrizio Frosini 06 November 2015

ITALIAN TRANSLATION (by Luigi Reitani) : SALMO 1. Tacete con me, come tacciono tutte le campane! Nella placenta degli orrori la canaglia fruga per nutrirsi ancora. Il venerdì santo una mano è appesa in visione al firmamento, le mancano due dita, non può giurare che tutto, tutto non sia stato e che nulla sarà. Affonda nel rosso delle nuvole, sottrae i nuovi assassini e va libera. Di notte, su questa terra, penetrare dentro le finestre, rivoltare i lini, perché siano messi a nudo i segreti dei malati, un'ulcera ricca di nutrimento, sofferenze infinite per tutti i gusti. I macellai, con mani inguantate, trattengono il respiro dei denudati, la luna sulla porta crolla al suolo, lascia stare i cocci, il manico... Tutto era pronto per l'estrema unzione. (Il sacramento non può essere eseguito) . 2. Come tutto è vano. Dà impulso a una città, sollevati dalla sua polvere, assumi un incarico e fingi, per non essere scoperto. Mantieni le promesse dinanzi a uno specchio cieco nell'aria, dinanzi a una porta chiusa nel vento. Inesplorate strade sulla parete ripida del cielo. 3. Occhi, occhi bruciati dalla terra, serbatoio del sole, gravati del peso della pioggia di tutti gli occhi, e ora intessuti, orditi dai tragici ragni del presente... 4. Nella conca del mio silenzio posa una parola e ai lati innalza boschi, perché la mia bocca tutta giaccia nell'ombra. - Ingeborg Bachmann (traduzione di Luigi Reitani) -

8 0 Reply
Sylvia Frances Chan 04 March 2020

CONGRATULATIONS to the family of the poetess. A well deserved Modern Poem Of The Day. on last 12 May 2018.. A special Psalm created. Though a lengthy poem, but this poem deserves to be read thoughtfully. With the help of PoemHunter, we are reading her poems now, Her poems consist oft melancholy and tragedy, much sadness but enormously of great beauty bestowed. Thanks for sharing this lovely poem. Beautiful.

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Kumarmani Mahakul 12 May 2018

Though this poem is lengthy yet it is special. Congratulations for this poem in P.o.D.

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Edward Kofi Louis 12 May 2018

A torrent is coming over the earth! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.

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Muzahidul Reza 12 May 2018

A long psalm by Ingeborg Bachmann, ........

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Fabrizio Frosini 06 November 2015

and in SPANISH: SALMO 1. Calai-vos comigo, como todos os sinos se calam! Na placenta do medo a escória procura alimento novo. Sexta-feira santa, pendurada no firmamento, uma mão, faltam-lhe dois dedos, não pode jurar que tudo, tudo aquilo não aconteceu e que nada acontecerá. Mergulha no vermelho das nuvens afasta os novos assassinos e liberta-se. De noite nesta terra alcançar as janelas, afastar os linhos, desvendando a intimidade dos doentes, uma úlcera suculenta, intermináveis dores para todos os gostos. Os carniceiros sustém, enluvados, a respiração dos despidos, no umbral a lua cai ao chão – Deixa ficar os cacos, a asa... Estava tudo a postos para a extrema-unção. (O sacramento não pode consumar-se.) 2. Como tudo é vão! Arrasa uma cidade, ergue-te do pó dessa cidade, assume um cargo e finge, para evitares expor-te. Cumpre as tuas promessas diante de um espelho cego no ar, diante de uma porta fechada ao vento. Virgens são os caminhos nas escarpas do céu. 3. Oh olhos, queimados na terra, silo do sol, carregados com o peso da chuva de todos os olhos, e agora enredados, tecidos pelas trágicas aranhas do presente... 4. Coloca uma palavra no vale da minha mudez e planta florestas de ambos os lados, para que a minha boca fique toda à sombra. (de O Tempo Aprazado, tradução de Judite Berkemeier e João Barrento, Assírio & Alvim,1992 – Gato Maltês)

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