Bohemia Lies by the Sea

With deepest apologies and gratitude…


“Bohemia Lies by the Sea”

Are these houses green, I once more enter a house.
Are these bridges safe, to walk I have good ground.
All loving effort lost for ever, I lose it happily.
lf not I myself then someone else as good as I.
lf here a word adjoins to me, I let it join.
If Bohemia lies still on the sea, I believe the seas.
And if I believe in the sea, I still can hope for land.
lf it’s I myself it’s everyone just as much as I.
I have no wishes any more. I wish to run aground.
Aground – towards the sea, to find Bohemia.
Wrecked, I wake up peacefully.
I have grounded my belief and shall be lost no longer.
Come here, you from Bohemia, sailors, whores, and ships
without a staying. Won’t you be Bohemians, you Illyrians, Veronese
Venetians. Play those comedies to make us laugh

Before we cry. Go wrong a hundred times
as I went wrong and always failed examinations,
yet I passed them all, each and every time.

Passed them like Bohemia which one fine day
was relieved down to the sea and now lies on the shore.

Still I adjoin to a word and to another country,
and ever more adjoin to all there is however slightly,
Come from Bohemia here, a vagrant, who has nothing, whom nothing keeps,
gifted with vision to see from the sea-struggle land of my choice.

(Ingeborg Bachmann, trans. Peter Filkins)


~ by ericplaag on February 23, 2008.

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