Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



The ports were open

(English translation of 'Die Häfen waren geöffnet' by Ingeborg Bachmann)

The ports were open to shipping. We got on board,
went full sail ahead, the dream over the bow,
blades by our knees and laughter in our hair,
our oars hit into the sea, faster than God's.

Our oars duelled with God's and parted the waves;
in front was the day, and behind were the nights,
above was our star, and down sank the others,
outside the storm faded away, and inside grew our Faust.

Only when a hard rain fell did we listen again;
Spears were thrown down and angels came forth,
We stared with darker eyes at our darkness.
We stood there in tattered clothes. Our coat of arms unfurled:

A cross of blood and a great ship over the heart.


For more translations of poems by Ingeborg Bachmann, go to Translations.

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