This poem by István Ágh (1938) draws us into a world of darkness, anxiety and fear, where you don't know any more who fears whom, where landscape, animal and human are all imbued with a nameless rage.
Night transformed into a raging dog, night filled with the twin fears of dog and master... The tight structure of this poem is like the claustrophobic kennel that opens up and becomes as big as the world. We are drawn into the same eerie yet all too familiar world of Max Neumann's paintings and Krasznahorkai's Animalinside: "You are my master, I'm inside you, just like that, inside you, you who are standing here, your hands clasped behind your back... just a few moments now, and I shall break out of you, and you will be that which I am, and that which I always have been."
The Night Dog
The sound of stone on stone reverberates
like that of crag crumbling into ravine
or fall of mighty avalanche, and then
the kennel opening on the world around
begets dark Caucasus in Argus-like
intelligence, street-passes, house-defiles,
which, from the yard next door, the voice
penetrates deeper with its every bark,
as if, enraged, night were becoming dog,
mistrust incarnate and hostility
past understanding to the shadowy void,
while its aggressive face, where serried fangs
seek flesh to rend, reveals its master's twin
who has imbued his fierce familiar
with fearfulness that will not suffer rest,
that so his proxy fret rather than he,
chained and subservient to humanity.
(Picture by Max Neumann, part of the cover of Animalinside by László Krasznahorkai)
Translated by: Bernard Adams
Tags: István Ágh