05. 31. 2006. 16:18

See Me Thus, He Who Wants (Poems)

"and when I’ll be without a country / because I can no longer profess it my own, / I’ll wrap myself in snowfall / as he who dons a white shirt, / on the last day."

On the Third Day It Began To Snow
(A harmadik nap esni kezdett a hó)

The first day served
to forget everything,
the second to remember it all.
On the third day it began to snow.
My suspicion grew:
now it will snow forever,
the length of your body,
from forehead to lips,
from lips to groin,
throughout my life.
It will snow from the ceiling,
the phone when I lift it,
the blurred sky of childhood, as I look back.
A shadow of snow lingers
among haystacks, stranded trees,
settles on darkened fields,
crowns refugees of war.
I knew I won’t be alone;
it will sit next to me on trains,
will cross the sea with me,
in the night
of screeching tires, suffocating cities,
it will call me by my name,   
will conquer me as a nation,
– conqueror
you wanted to be –
and when I’ll be without a country
because I can no longer profess it my own,
I’ll wrap myself in snowfall
as he who dons a white shirt,
on the last day.

A Song To The City
(Vallomás a városhoz)

How much windswept filth on your streets,
how many vacuous, vagrant stares,
suffocating smog on your horizon, City!
How many leached loves behind your walls!
But when passion switches to green
like a traffic light for a brief moment,
rain sweeps down, still foliage stirs,
from high above lace curtains snow,
and a splendid frenzy
flashes past the tramways’ tracks,
whistles and creaks like a flute’s
high-pitched shriek.

Love you? Love you not, City?
I leaf through thirty years
and wander about your streets
not knowing where.
Here everything is closer to touch, flesh,
closer to ecstasy, violence.
From the boilers’ dragon throat,
as in fairy tales, flames shoot at me,
and below the earth’s crust, in your sewers,
torrents of eternal filth.
Am I yours, City, or merely
your captive?

I often leave you, deny you and yearn to be back
where bonfires nestle on the ground
like exhausted oxen,
and in the garden, the hedgehog, Nature’s confidant, walks –
then suddenly its velvety slide
is jarred by the squeaking of your thousand windows, clinking of iron,
and your lovely, neurotic, rejected women burst out crying.
I am again, at once, at their side
in gliding mirror-laden elevators,
in the metro’s hair-blowing gust of air,
exalted by your countless glances
and my own madness. If you don’t embrace me,
only the forest will meditate with me
and wrapped around the Moon, death;
the world won’t come to my rescue in the hour of need,
won’t wait, send word, serenade me
or teach me how to immortalize myself.
You pulsate on my retina
like seeds on a trembling drum.
Will smoke engulf me?
An earthquake? Firebirds’ fleeting flight?
Betray you or not,
City, I’ll be with you.

See Me Thus, He Who Wants
(Így lásson, aki látni akar)

I let this face
wrinkle with grace,
un-dented, as it is, by fist or fragment,
un-trampled by relentless spiders’ legs.   
See me thus, he who wants
as I fade from the shadow
of chestnut trees,
from this city
which jostled, flaunted, hugged, deluded me.

My eyes drift from statues’ faces
to steeples, sky, and back:
over the Royal Castle extinguished fires glow,
and on Parliament Square,
the wounded writhe in blood.
See me thus, he who wants,
as I wander with heavy temples
into daily darkness,
before lights – memorial candles – turn on.

I could have become a wily dodger,
shrewd observer of worlds,
became instead a friend of words,
snow showers, and meandering rains,
in a century of derailed hopes,
the powerless free,
who, risking his neck,
dreams the un-dreamable to the end.

My time will come, perhaps it will,
but he who wants, should see me thus,
weak yet strong, as I step out
from under the sky’s pavilion roof.
Wrinkles preserved on my face
like collected verse,
will conquer when I’ve left!
This haughty town will perhaps pause
to hide its inadmissible loss.

It Was Good For Me
(Jó volt nekem)   

It was good for me, the nook, straw mattress,
saddle-back bed,
hooded lamp above my head;
it was good to sleep despite the creaking.  

The moon, like dread postponed,
rose often,
wall, grandfather clock, window post grew taller;
it was good to be afraid despite the omen.

Snow in Paris, ice in Zamolj,
from Georgia’s hillsides the blood of eagles flowed –
stranger in every defeat, sorrow,
it was good to be on earth, a stranger too.

Good to pass before benevolent eyes
like that gaunt, radiant Nazarite
who entered the City
on a tousled donkey, in Palm Sunday best.

Drums rumbled, cowbells shook
like an epileptic soldier –
my nude mistresses jolted me so
when I woke again next to them at night.

Their groins glowed, scorched me  
like sand around Jerusalem;   
instead of rosemary-light grace,
I yearned for warm tresses of rain

which trail by, greet us, bid farewell
to lovers’ trysts or acrimonious spat.
In their wake, sunshine, eternity,
and snails in grass head for infinity.

It was good for me, the good and also the bad:
through suffering life kept its course.
If they must, my dead will die, die again
to surround my heart with cypresses,

and time, in it always another,
an unknown time’s replicating cell,
squirmed, tossed, yearned,
never letting my eyes grow old.  

Day To Day
(Napról napra)

Day to day the thorns are sharper,
July’s glitter more menacing;
a monster’s teeth gleam so,
fitted with golden crowns.

Who so far on his doorstep sighed,
grinds his teeth in timid sleep,
smashes plates,
kicks the sunbathing cats,
wants to hear rasping cries of pain,
amplified echoes of old grievances for consolation.

The century wanes, shockingly wastes away,
– liver spots on its gaunt Mephistopheles face –
day to day more estranged
from mirth, acacia blossoms,
the mission-accomplished dead;
everything that’s glory remains a fragment.

Oh, coy dictatorships, what a story!
We fray, slacken, tear like silk;
who once would have forsaken Christ,
betrays himself unflinchingly day to day;
in his heart wild beasts toy
like clawed kittens with a spool of wool.       

The poet on a hilltop, lying on his back,
tries to sing,
but no sound leaves his throat.
The taste of spoiled elegies lingers in his mouth
as if forced-fed tainted bird liver at dusk.

Translated by: Géza Simon

Tags: Sándor Csoóri