Translated from the Hungarian by Joe Váradi
The Storm Approaches
By Attila József
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.
By Margit Kaffka
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.