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Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Two Hungarian Poems— Translated by Joe Váradi

Dec 28, 2022 | Poetry | 2 comments

Translated from the Hungarian by Joe Váradi

 

The Storm Approaches 

By Attila József

 

Storm Approaches, Hungarian Poem

Artwork by Csontváry Kosztka Tivadar

 

The storm approaches, ebon-crested,
irate judges, black-cloaked and vested,
lightning bolts sever skies tempested,
like pangs of an afflicted mind,
velvet murmur stirs close behind,
jasmine petals shiver in kind.

Apple blossoms - branches yet intact—
racing with time to unfurl, extract
their ephem’ral wings - what a fools’ pact!
All along this grassy down’s tilt,
wretched blades of grass droop and wilt,
mourn the sun’s descent into silt.

Trembling at the dreaded verdict’s heft—
thus the wee ones their example set,
bear humbly the pained life you have left,
with a song so soft that even
the grasses will sense you, within,
and take you for one of their kin.


 

Quietude 

By Margit Kaffka

 

Quietude, Hungarian Poem

Artwork by Edward Hopper

 

I know naught
Of silence that burning secrets wrought
And wherein seeds of brewing storms awake;
Wherein covert promises plant their stake.
Of silence that draws thunderous reply,
Taut cord, that snaps its final ply,
Or which stirs a grand harmony
Of life, joy, and fatal destiny,
Come what may! Come, as it ought!
—of such silence I know naught.

But I do know
Where melancholy’s gnarled vines grow,
Halfwit carrier of a disfigured past,
Endless lonely hours till dusk at last,
Whence mute, impassive shadows depart,
Casting no blame, settle around my heart,
And for the heart to wait—it hasn’t any right—
Tomorrow comes, as the present day arrived,
Minutes beget minutes, for it must be so,
—This silence I do know. 


Also, read a Bengali story by Shyamal Gangopadhyay , translated into English by Chaiti Mitra, and published in The Antonym:

The Fairy— Shyamal Gangopadhyay


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Attila József (1905 – 1937) started from humble origins and a troubled childhood—abandoned by his father, sent to foster parents by his struggling mother—to become one of the giants of 20th-century poetry in his nation. He died at a young age in a tragic accident that was suspected by some to be suicide.

 

Margit Kaffka

Margit Kaffka (1880 – 1918) was a poet, writer, teacher, and member of the Nyugat generation. She died in the 1918 flu pandemic along with her young son.

Joe Váradi is a translator and editor of No Crime in Rhymin’, an online forum devoted to humorous and edgy poetry that adheres to traditional forms.

2 Comments

  1. Giacomina Laura Sheridan

    Beautiful poems carefully and skilfully translated. It can’t be easy to translate the words as well as keep the rhymes. Excellent work.

    Reply
  2. Samuel

    Traductore traditori

    Reply

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