Born in western Hungary, educated in Bedales and Cambridge, friend to Keynes and Woolf, romantic rival to Brooke, and killed fighting the Allies - a new English collection of the poems and letters of Ferenc Békássy.
In July last year HLO published an article on the long-neglected poet Ferenc Békássy, as well as one of his sonnets written in English in Asheham 1914. Now we are happy to announce that a collection of his poetry and letters have been published in English in a new edition entitled The Alien in the Chapel.
George (György) and Mari Gömöri will introduce their new edition The Alien in the Chapel at 5pm on 20 October in the Petőfi Literary Museum. The event will be in Hungarian.
The lives and work of those young English poets who perished during World War I has been well documented. One in particular being Rupert Brooke. The poetry of Ferenc Békássy, though Hungarian born but educated in England has been neglected. He was a friend of Rupert Brooke and a close friend of the economist John Maynard Keynes, who visited him in Hungary. His love letters to Noel Olivier with whom Rupert Brooke was also in love, are published for the first time along with most of the poems he wrote in English. In his last letter to her, Békássy leaving for the front writes, "We shall meet again Noel, shan't we, some day?" Brooke ends his last letter to her with the words "dreadful if you loose all your lovers at once".
Amrita says :
But no, I never loved him! – true, I often marvelled
At his heart's embers flaring into light.
And if we parted ways, I parted weeping,
And it would make me smile when I'd discover
And read afresh some letters of his lines.
And how I loved those countless nights in winter!
If flames flared up occasionally in the hearth,
The russet light would soak his passionate body,
The blinking light of our shared words did glimmer
As they sought out plain, honest judgement both.
The things he'd ask – that my body burn in fever,
To rekindle the deep fire of his heart,
That passion might dictate itself to passion,
And drive my joy across a thousand dangers,
That lightning dash my cherished peace apart....
Oh! how cold...
Oh! how cold the autumn wind does feel...
And how thick the leaves of trees now fall!
How blood-filled the northern battlefield!
Tramping round the barracks summer last;
Chestnut trees were standing wan and pale:
Washed in dust by soldiers marching past.
Pale now too upon this autumn's day,
Now towards the blowing wind up North,
Off they go, here falling leaves, there death.
Here we've long since reaped our harvest yield;
When will reaping end there in the field?
Reapers! Soldiers! When will reaping end?
(Poems translated by Owen Good)