Endre Ady (1877-1919) , The Fall Sets Foot in Paris

Yesterday in Paris the fall snuck in
Skittering down the Boul’ Mich’ soundlessly
In dog-day heat, beneath unmoving limbs
And met with me.

I was mid-stroll aiming at the Seine
With little song-twigs burning in my mind,
Smoky ones and strange and sad and purple ones
Telling of my death.

The fall caught up to me and whispered something strange
And Saint-Michel quivered deep down under
Screaming as the prankster leaves
Clattered up the Boulevard.

All in a moment: the summer caught full unawares
But fall had already cackled its way away
Out of town. I and only I had known
Its footfall here, beneath the moaning limbs.

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Imre Ámos (1907-1944/45?)

An ancestor of mine
herdsman of Tekoa
held in his burning hand
a loud shrill pipe
On entering town his heart
would flame up red
his words scorch every senseless crime
every whiff of cruelty
His tongue he sharpened
on the black backs of kings and heroes
I am but his late-come descendant
a tender soft-voiced herdsboy
wanting a worthy flock
and penetrating pipe
No fever burns in my pale eyes
No desire in me to scorch the trees
I but laze on riverbanks
staring at clouds and moon and sky
at dusk or in the winter’s heart.

(The Biblical prophet Amos was born in Tekoa — Hungarian original contained in this article)

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István Domonkos (1940- ) “Broken Rudder”

sudek man shadow Continue reading

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Noémi László (1973- ) “High Shadow”

That first surgery wasn’t one.
There stood mother, all I feared.
After the fall I checked the wound,
And left it in the mirror’s memory.

I never made it all the way round morning.
Sometimes noon would take till midnight.
I hardly dared laugh. And by the time
They extracted all the shards

The shadow was already climbing high
Up the houses and the ten horse-chestnuts.
The evening was as fresh as the scar,
And a few more things no longer mine.

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Umberto Saba (1883-1957) “Ulysses”



In younger days I sailed Dalmatia’s coast:

Budding islands capped the crest of waves, where now

And then a bird would hover, fixed on prey;

Seaweed-wrapped and slippery, lovely as emeralds in the sun.

When high tide and nightfall took them back, sails

On beat to windward gave them wider berth to slip their trap.

Today my kingdom Is that no-man’s land.

The port is lit for others; me an untamed spirit

Drives wide in the world, and an aching love for life.




_____________________________ (Italian original here)

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Mihály Babits (1883-1941), “Evening Question”

As evening’s soft blanket,
smooth silken blanket of blackness
spread out by some monumental nursemaid
slowly envelops its beloved earth
and with such care that each single blade of grass
stands straight up in its gentle wrap
and not a wrinkle frights the petals of flowers
and the shiny rainbow-glaze shows still
on butterflies’ fragile twofold wings
who rest so in the shadow of this veil,
this light, smooth, silken veil,
that it burdens them not:
Then wherever you be in the world’s wide dome,
perhaps at home in your sad, brown room,
or watching in wonder at the coffeehouse table
as the sunlight-gas lamps are fired up one by one,
or, weary on the hillside, gazing with hound
through branches at the lazy moon;
or on the dustveiled highway,
as your sleep-eyed coachman
noddingly drives the steed along;
or dizzy on a ship’s swelling deck,
or seated perchance on a rolling train;
or, wandering through an unknown town
you stop at a corner to wonder
at the filament threads of distant streets,
at the street-flames’ double line;
or even on the Riva’s waterfront bank
where dull opal mirror dices flame –

Then descend into a watery ache for long ago,
whose memory pains so sweetly, long
for your days that have passed, that are,
and are not, like the water-light of that magic lamp,
whose memory cannot leave you cold,
whose memory’s a burden, yet pure gold:
There may you droop your remembrance-laden head
down to the marble earth:
Then, as you drift through beauty’s lambent glow,
a cowardly thought will seize you there:

Wherefore this beauty in such abound?
A desperate thought will seize you there:
This silky water, dappled marble – Why?
Why the winged blanket of evening?
Why the hills’ sloping, branches’ coping
and the sea that receives no sower’s seed?
What good the currents and their tides
and those downcast Danaïd clouds
and Sisyphus’ burning stone, the Sun?
What serve memories and all times past?
Why the moon, why the lamps?
Wherefore the endless stream of time?
Or consider the tiniest blade of grass:
Why would it grow only to dry and pass?
Why would it dry only to grow again?

(Hungarian original here)

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János Pilinszky (1921-1981) “Forbidden Star”

Born on a banished star
I wander exiled on the shore.
The spume of the void snaps me up,
Toys with me, and chucks me back.

What is it I’m repenting for?
My ears are filled with cryptic buzz.
May all who find me on this shore,
This sunken shore, flee not. Remain.

Be not afeared and shun me not,
But soothe my suffering instead.
Close your eyes and hold me fast,
Hold me boldly, like a knife.

Be reckless: see me as your own
The way the dead regard the night,
Prop my weak shoulder on your own
As I can hardly bear it now.

My birth I never asked for.
Nothingness bore me, suckled me.
Now give me dark and ruthless love
As the abandoned living love their dead.


(Hungarian original here )

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