03. 01. 2012. 14:15

Poem of the month - Ágnes Nemes Nagy: Thirst

While the purist may fault this translation for departing from the form of the original by failure to rhyme and cropping a syllable, others will surely complain that a mere male is too reckless for words in attempting, even at second-hand, an account of female sexuality.

How to express this thirst – words fail me – this
Ineffable, tormenting thirst for you?

Would that I might be a carnivorous plant:
You'd be drawn into me, fall into my scent.
Mine would become the warmth of your bronzed skin,
The genteel hand with which you shield yourself,
Which says, each ruinous time we part,
That after all I have been left alone.
Mine too your arm that over-arches mine,
The gleaming raven-plumage of your hair
On which like wings I glide and glide above
A swaying landscape, glowing, infinite.
I'd drink into myself your melting flesh
As thick and sweet as tropic juices, and
The thrilling magic of the smell of you
Like sage and horsetail of primeval Earth.
And your ethereal soul too I would take
(It flickers lantern-like above your head),
All of you greedily, insatiably,
If a carnivorous flower I could be.

But as I'm not? What more? I'll know no rest.
You love me, I love you. What hopelessness.

            A szomj 



Hogy mondjam el? A szó nem leli számat:

Kimondhatatlan szomj gyötör utánad.


Ha húsevő növény lehetne testem,

belémszívódnál, illatomba esten.

Enyém lehetne langyos, barna bőröd,

kényes kezed, amivel magad őrzöd,

s mely minden omló végső pillanatban

elmondja: mégis, önmagam maradtam.

Enyém karod, karom fölé hajolva,

enyém hajad villó, fekete tolla,

mely mint a szárny suhan, suhan velem,

hintázó tájon, fénylőn, végtelen.

Magamba innám olvadó húsod,

mely sűrű, s édes, mint a trópusok,

és illatod borzongató varázsát,

mely mint a zsurlók, s ősvilági zsályák.

És mind magamba lenge lelkedet

(fejed fölött, mint lampion lebeg)

magamba mind, mohón, elégítetlen,

ha húsevő virág lehetne testem.


De így? Mi van még? Nem nyugszom sosem.

Szeretsz, szeretlek. Mily reménytelen. 



While the purist may fault this translation for departing from the form of the original by failure to
rhyme and cropping a syllable, others will surely complain that a mere male is too reckless for
words in attempting, even at second-hand, an account of female sexuality. It is interesting to note
that this well-known and widely admired early Nemes Nagy poem does not appear in any of the
three English anthologies of her work, and its use was specifically forbidden – fiercely so, he says
– to Szirtes. One can but speculate on quite why.

Translated by: Bernard Adams

Tags: Ágnes Nemes Nagy (1922–1991), Bernard Adams