03. 26. 2018. 12:06

János Térey: Funeral Oration for the Twins

translated by George Szirtes

"Ground Zero is the place where I may clear/ Unsettled debts that fund my quirkiness" – We're delighted to be able to present a poem by János Térey. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.


Funeral Oration for the Twins

[Az Ikrek gyászbeszéde]



Since both Twins had collapsed before high noon,

And crushed foundations won’t support a wall,

Nor will the tower-womb shelter even one

Lost storey – phone-line, boardroom, terminal –

There’s space in the conquered sky, the gaze may run

Straight down two airwells marking the Twins’ fall.

Their rattled ribs reach for the deepening dusk

Like a serpent skeleton’s discarded husk.


The tower of capital cracks: its throat is slit;

The second with a chest wound starts to slide.

I watch the untouchables falling, bit by bit,

Rocked by sheer terror in their pomp and pride.

Glass-curtains cascade down, their slivers split;

Once landscape changes, tourists need a guide.

And if one morning the Twins are just not there,

It’s only a taster, the first seeds of despair.


Ground Zero is the place where I may clear

Unsettled debts that fund my quirkiness –

My dream came true: the landscape should appear

Wickedly redrawn: a board for chess,

Recalling relics of earlier sites of fear:

Wrecks tangible in ordinariness.

What’s shocking is the singularity:

No previous patterns fit reality.


(Now I recall my near-Cassandra vein:

Playing with fire, in vatic delirium,

I wrap up brother Paul in a silvery skein

And blow my concrete twin to kingdom come

Leaving a skeleton, a twisted frame…)

Burning Manhattan models for the sum

Of all bad-blood; it is the climax where

The worst can realize their bleak nightmare.


He who grabs his opponent by the hip

And floors him, cries out to the heavenly host

But lacks power to wreck human workmanship.

Heaven is a region where such power is lost.

The streets that I walked men rake over and strip

To seek the dead elite, first at their post.

Credo quia absurdum. Wherever I now belong

I saw New York but left the town unsung.


(Translated by George Szirtes)



Previously on HLO: