War is no longer declared,
it is continued. The unheard of
has become everyday. The hero
is absent from the battle. The feeble one
has moved into the firing range.
The uniform of day is patience,
the order of merit is the sorry star
of hope over the heart.

It is awarded
when nothing comes to pass,
when the bombardment is hushed,
when the enemy has become invisible
and the shadow of eternal armament
covers the sky.

It is awarded
for the flight from flag,
for the boasting before a friend,
for the betrayal of shameful secrets
and the contempt
of every command.

Ingeborg Bachmann (1926-1973) was a member of the literary circle “Gruppe 47,” which included writers such as Ilse Aichinger, Paul Celan, and Günter Grass. Bachmann’s poetry collections Deferred Time (1953) and Invocation of the Great Bear (1956) achieved critical acclaim.

Monika Zobel’s poetry has appeared in Best New Poets 2010 and is forthcoming in Zoland Poetry. She has translated the works of Bertolt Brecht, Paul Celan, and Michael Krüger. Zobel has worked as a contributing editor at Poetry International and is one of the founding editors of the California Journal of Poetics. She is a Fulbright Fellow to Austria.

Homepage photograph via Flickr by US Army Korea

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