The Austrian poetess Ingeborg Bachmann died to early. She died after a fire in her bedroom broke out. She left us with a legacy of poetry written between 1953 and 1973. This is the translation of the German poem Bruderschaft (Brotherhood).

About the poet

Bachmann was born in the Austrian city Klagenfurt on June 25 1926. She studied philosophy, psychology, German philology and law. She became a Doctor of Philosophy in 1949. After this she worked as a scriptwriter for the Allied radio station Rot-Weiss-Rot. This made it possible for her to begin writing poetry. Her first poetry collection titled Die gestundete Zeit (The elapsed time) was published in 1953.

During the next two years she lived in Rome. When she moved back to Austria, she became romantically involved with the Swiss writer Max Frisch. He didn’t take the relationship seriously, because at various times he cheated on her. In 1962 she decided it was enough. This breakup had a strong impact on her life and probably lead to her start using drugs. It was the drug barbiturate that would become fatal to her.

On the night of September 25/26 1973 a fire broke out in her home. After being rushed to the hospital, doctors did not realise that she was using drugs. This drug abuse would eventually cause her death on October 17 1873.



Ingeborg Bachmann

Each and every thing cuts wounds,
and neither of us has forgiven the other.
Hurting like you and hurtful,
I lived towards you.


Every touch augments
the pure, the spiritual touch;
we experience it as we age,
turned into coldest silence.


This poem was translated by Johannes Beilharz.



Ingeborg Bachmann


Alles ist Wundenschlagen,
und keiner hat keinem verziehn.
Verletzt wie du und verletzend,
lebte ich auf dich hin.


Die reine, die Geistesberührung,
um jede Berührung vermehrt,
wir erfahren sie alternd,
ins kälteste Schweigen gekehrt.

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