09. 03. 2012. 11:49

Poem of the month - Dezső Kosztolányi: Early September

Now Autumn, long and mute and motionless, / lies clothed in gold among the bounteous / playthings of summer, beaten Darius, / bereft of hope of future victories.

Early September

Now Autumn, long and mute and motionless,
lies clothed in gold among the bounteous
playthings of summer, beaten Darius,
bereft of hope of future victories.

Ablaze with purple fruits on every side,
she cannot stay for pleasure gratified,
as in her ear the calm of wind and skies
frost-green will whisper 'There, be satisfied',
but she will nod assent, know time and tide,
for such is life, beginning and demise.

Neither shall I feel pain at having to be done
with all things beautiful. I shall put on
the heavy gold robe of philosophy
and in my every word smile apathy.

***

Dezső Kosztolányi (1885–1936) was not a religious man, and the grief that pervades his verse is rather the humanist acceptance of our common lot, regret at man's hopelessness in the pursuit of happiness. Whether Kosztolányi's prose or his verse is the better part of his oeuvre is open to debate. From the translator's point of view, however, the verse is so finely crafted as to be all but impossible to emulate, and it is seldom that one feels able even to approach the quality of the original.

Translated by: Bernard Adams

Tags: Dezső Kosztolányi