08. 10. 2006. 15:18

On one knee (Two poems)

"I know, Lord, that to think of you is cheek, / and still worse, to address you when I speak, / as if my voice were what you're yearning for. / There was a time, if you'd struck me with lightning, / I'd have accepted it, thought it the right thing. / Now I've made you my co-conspirator."

On one knee

I know, Lord, that to think of you is cheek,
and still worse, to address you when I speak,
as if my voice were what you're yearning for.
There was a time, if you'd struck me with lightning,
I'd have accepted it, thought it the right thing.
Now I've made you my co-conspirator.

I've never questioned whether you can see
the slightest cause to take delight in me.
Just having found you: that consumes my thought.
I'm selfish, greedy, often play the fool,
but then, you sent me to the kind of school
where these things are the major subjects taught.

I won't come close. Rather not see your face
than cut myself from my accustomed place
to drift off, rootlessly, into your calm.
My lot's to pine away in freezing cold,
not be like one of those you snugly hold,
accustomed to the warmth within your palm.

I longed to serve you, rapturously devout,
stand proudly by your side, day in, day out;
I failed.  But though my skin may fear your birch,
I need your music every time I speak.
For when my eyes stray, you are whom they seek;
My arms for wings, my hands for mercy search.

Before dinner

Lord, if you squeeze me dry, the way one squeezes lemons,
if, like an old estate, you rent me out to tenants,
if you send taunting dreams, or angels to my bed
to send their hiss - "depraved!" - echoing through my head;
Lord, if you stripe my flesh with veins that show up blue,
try me with daydreams vague, and work, and children too,
if you mess up the better half of every day
and I, on purpose, do not take one step your way;
if you send night to me, with still no answering voice;
then, Lord, except to love you, have I any choice?


 

Translated by: David Hill

Tags: Ádám Nádasdy