07. 25. 2011. 18:37

Poem of the Month – Endre Ady: On the Hungarian Fallow (1906)

"I walk a land, fertile of old, / But now grown wild with millet-grass and tares. / This fallow field is Hungary, / For which none cares."  - A poem by Endre Ady, published in 1906.

 What is it about Hungary that has so often made those who despair of her unable to break away? In one of the finest poems in the language Endre Ady lays bare the sweet agony of his Hungarianness. (Bernard Adams)

Endre Ady (1877–1919) was born in Érdmindszent (today Ady Endre, Romania). He studied law in Debrecen, but abandoned his studies for a career in journalism and literature. His first volume of poetry, New Poems (1899) caused a hot literary debate and has been regarded ever since as the touchstone of modern Hungarian poetry. Following Léda, a woman who became the subject of many of his poems, Ady visited Paris seven times between 1903 and 1911. Paris, and French Symbolism in particular, left an indelible mark on his poetry and his personality. From its first issue, Ady was closely associated with the most influential, politically and artistically progressive periodical of the time, Nyugat, of which he was also editor from 1912.

I walk a land, fertile of old,
But now grown wild with millet-grass and tares.
This fallow field is Hungary,
For which none cares.
 
Low to the sacred soil I bend,
Some baneful thing its purity now sours.
Alas, you skyward-stretching weeds,
Are there no flowers?

The spirit of the land sleeps on.
I watch. About me tendrils sinuate.
The cherished scents of flowers long dead
Intoxicate.

Silence. The millet-grass and tares
Drag me down, stupefy, envelop, and
A mocking wind wafts by above
Our fallow Land.

 

Translated by: Bernard Adams

Tags: Endre Ady