I can’t live beyond its borders any more. / Bullet-holes in the houses' walls, / my grandfather’s blood, my grandmother’s fleeing / perhaps burnt into the bricks themselves, / just like my guts in the air-raid shelter’s depths, / shrieking sirens, the fear of death.
Of course, Lipót Braun was right when he said that what is lost is lost forever. But (and it’s just that): what does it mean to lose something? Does it mean that it has disappeared and is no more, that it was swallowed by the earth; or does it only mean that we don’t see it any longer? And if we don’t see it, do we even miss it?
The doctors panicked / during the operation. But I had already flown / away to tranquility. I watched my body / from without, I left the room. Everything was fine, / I had arrived before a certain presence. In the sufferings of all my mothers, / there is my own share. I could have stayed, but you still / have things to do, this was said to me.
To the English-language reader, Kosztolányi is chiefly known as the author of the novels Skylark and Anna Édes. Yet his Complaints of a Poor Little Child is one of the best known books of 20th-century Hungarian poetry. In these poems, Kosztolányi captures the world of childhood in its timelessness and sense of eternal beginning.
Laura Iancu (1978) was born in Magyarfalu, in the Romanian region of Moldavia, a member of the Hungarian Csango ethnic group. She moved to Hungary to study, and has lived there ever since. She has published two volumes of poetry and a volume of Csango folk tales to date.