Ingeborg Bachmann’s Stay (a poem)


Ingeborg Bachmann (Austrian poet) 25 June 1926 – 17 October 1973


by Ingeborg Bachmann

“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.”

I came across this poem by the renowned female poet last night and it struck a chord with me.

Play with whatever hand you are dealt in this life.  It is yours alone.   The good cards are your strength and talents.  The bad cards symbolize where your weaknesses reside.  You can use them all  foolishly or wisely.   You can waste talents.  You can overcome difficulties.

The choice is yours.

Play the game!

What does the poem mean to you?

And the original:  Bleib

“Die Fahrten gehn zu Ende,

der Fahrtenwind bleibt aus.

Es fällt dir in die Hände

ein leichtes Kartenhaus.

Die Karten sind bebildert

und zeigen jeden Ort.

Du hast die Welt geschildert

und mischst sie mit dem Wort.

Profundum der Partien,

die dann im Gange sind!

Bleib, um das Blatt zu ziehen,

mit dem man sie gewinnt.”

Published in: on October 25, 2010 at 3:21 pm  Comments (11)  
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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It does have a very determinist thing going, doesn’t it?

    “Stay, the card you’re drawing/ is the only world you’ll win.”

    There’s something about that image I just really like.

  2. This could have even been about Tarot cards, drawing a “world” card, cards backed with pictures… 😉 You knew I could tie this to Tarot somehow, right?

  3. Heya Amy,

    I see it as a mix of determinism and free will. There’s the hand given to you at birth (that you can’t change), but you can use the hand anyway you want. (free will)

    Glad you like the image. 🙂

  4. Hiya DD,

    hee hee! You-tarot? Never! 😉

    Actually, I also thought of the tarot!

  5. Arn’t the playing Solitare and hoping to draw the right card to win 😛

  6. Hi there Chazz,

    Ah…Solitaire is another interesting way of looking at it.

    I’m really enjoying the different interpretations of the poem. 🙂

  7. Mm, beautiful. I see it as don’t keep looking for that other life; this one here and now in front of you, the one you’ve breathed in, this is it. Your one and only.

    Love it 🙂

  8. But it also has a murmur of death in it. Looking back at the moments and seeing the real life you’ve lived. To me 🙂

  9. I love this poem. I agree with the comment that it has a murmur of death to it … a sense that time is so fleeting so embrace the hand of cards you have now … Very touching! I did not know this poet and thank you for the introduction!

  10. Hey Sput,

    That’s an interesting take on it. So glad you liked it! 🙂

  11. Hi Kelly,

    I like how you put that: “a sense that time is so fleeting so embrace the hand of cards you have now”.

    Glad you also liked the poem. I just discovered her the night I posted it. I was on a search for poets I had not yet discovered. 🙂

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