German Matters Literature Poetry

Erich Fried – “Wollen”


Bei dir sein wollen
Mitten aus dem was man tut
weg sein wollen
bei dir verschwunden sein

Nichts als bei dir
näher als Hand an Hand
enger als Mund an Mund
bei dir sein wollen

In dir zärtlich zu dir sein
dich küssen von außen
und dich streicheln von innen
so und so und auch anders

Und dich einatmen wollen
immer nur einatmen wollen
tiefer tiefer
und ohne Ausatmen trinken

Aber zwischendurch Abstand suchen
um dich sehen zu können
aus ein zwei Handbreit Entfernung
und dann dich weiterküssen

Erich Fried

Wanting to be with you
in the middle of what I’m doing
wanting to be gone
lost within you

Nothing but with you
closer than hand to hand
more intimate than lips to lips
wanting to be with you

Being tender within you
kissing you from the outside
and caressing you from within
this and that way and also differently

And wanting to inhale you
nothing but inhaling
deeper deeper
and to drink without exhaling

And while doing so searching the distance
to see you
just two hands away
and then kiss you again

Translation by Günter Ehweiner

Erich Fried was born on 6 May 1921 in Vienna. He began writing early until the German Anschluss in March 1938 transformed him “from an Austrian high school pupil into a persecuted Jew.” His father was murdered by the Gestapo, and Fried fled to London, where he helped his mother and 70 other people escape.

After the war Fried became a co-worker for numerous newly founded journals, later a commentator in German-language programs at the BBC. He gave up this position in 1968 because of the Cold War posture adopted by the BBC.

He made a name for himself with various poems and his only novel (“A soldier and a girl” 1960) and also making translations (including, among other things, the translation of almost the entire works of Shakespeare) – but also his work conflicted with public opinion on political issues, which was reflected in many of his poems. It was not until the end of his life that he received the recognition he deserved in the form of awards such as the Bremen Literary Prize, the Austrian State Prize and the Georg Büchner Prize.

Erich Fried died after a long and serious illness on 22 November 1988 and was buried at the Kensal Green Cemetery in London.

By penwithlit

Freelance writer and radio presenter

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