03. 22. 2011. 08:47

To the body


The Word becomes mortal and vulnerable when it is made flesh. The poem stutters when it talks about body. Through individual stories of suffering and philosophical odes, Szilárd Borbély’s volume, To the Body, tests the divine and the poetic word against the human experience of existing in a body.

On the Train

27.1 (The Calling)

My calling was an inner calling, which caused
me to leave the place where I was
very happy, to go out into the streets,
to serve the very poorest of the poor. I heard
His calling to serve Him among the most destitute. In
the silence of the heart, where He does not speak to me.

27.2 (Grace)
On September tenth, in the year nineteen hundred
and forty-six, on the Darjeeling train,
from the Light of God, from the Love of the Mother,
the origin of the Missionaries of Love
received much grace. In the boundlessly
profound desire of God to love me, and
me unconditionally to love Him.

27.4 (The Abyss)
In my heart there is no faith – no love –
no trust – but there is so much pain –
the pain of desire – the pain that says
I am not needed. – I desire with my
entire soul – and yet there is between us
a horrifying abyss.

27.7 (The Smile)
I am not alone. His darkness is
with me – His pain. I know He is here,
my soul watches only Him. Please do not
come to Bombay, I have nothing to speak of. Lately
he has taken that too. In reply I smile broadly
at Him – Thanks be to God that He still inclines
towards me, to take something away.

27.8 (Emptiness)
When it was a question of spiritual aridity, it was
repeated to me many times: What a miraculous gift from God,
that I may offer Him the emptiness that
I feel. I truly rejoice that I may give Him
this secret and hidden gift… 

To the Tombstone

Oh, to whom do you speak, you Stone, who
addresses those departing in bodies
to stand here, as they rush onwards to

the dead? What do you know,
tell me, what more than weight,
which gravity has fixed here among

the blades of grass? Indeed
the word has no heaviness
that would pull it down. Why chisel it into

the stone, the non-existent, among the fleeting
signs? Oh what is the meaning of the mute
stone, into which the word-

form is carved? You were left
here, a name with just a few strokes?
Oh speak, for without you

all will tremble, to come to know
certitude, for surely in you mute
is the pain, and in you no comfort, no hope.

To the Embryo

The Body speaks to you, of which
     language is the bearer,
just a mantle, just more burden
     till the clock strikes the hour,

till arrives that moment
     which is the body’s spring,
the Likeness, under which
     into the Word comes Time,

for Body is language’s syntax:
     the before and the behind,
activities’ own praxis
    a coat shall be donned

onto language: space-form of flesh and blood
     the body’s above and below
the inconceivable thought
     into which You are thrown,

for it chiefly originates
     from what as life is known,
to push along among the signs
     till you reach the back of your own

self-perception, in which there hovers
     the embryo without space,
the organism before language:
     the ribonucleic-acid strip.

To the Posthuman

History has not yet reached
the confines of the body,
which awaits the transhuman

in the Gate of Expulsion,
where the footprints lead into the
desert. There the angel stands,

in Nowhere, where there is no where
and where there is no when. Only
waiting for all eternal time, which

is not waiting itself. From where
the breeze of the superhuman
body shrills. In the tempest

an angel leans forwards, grasps
at the air. It cannot step across
the borders of history, because it is posthuman.

To the Depths of the Body

Oh Photographic Depths, you time past,
   you burden without weight!
It’s the shadows you observe
   in the Light as it raises

you with itself, as four
   children proceed in a Space.
The hands clutched together
   grasp and grasp forever

nothing but odds and ends
   in which their frail tiny limbs
are something merely hinted
   these colossal infants.

That’s how we see them in passing:
   An inclined female form.
Underneath the bodice, above the pleat
   a Body moves along. –

You see the back. There, as
   the weight, the leg, the tattered rags…
Behind her a crumpled child,
   sullen, seeks redress,

walks. A savage coat!
   Oh so much fabric, dead.
Tautened grooves. The fence.
   And behind every step

murderous current. For here, you see,
   the Road leads into the Body’s Depths.
Like stations of the heresy:
   the burning Five Wounds.

The Demand

It was early morning. Sarah arose
early. Before she set off, Abraham,
the suitor of her old age, embraced her
and Sarah kissed Isaac, who had saved

her from shame, who was her pride and
the hope of her people.
Then mutely they began their journey.
Abraham’s gaze fixed upon the ground

until the fourth day. Then he glimpsed
the peak of Moria but again
he just gazed at the ground.
Wordlessly he piled up the kindling

for the fire. He tied up Isaac, and silently
raised the knife above him. Then
he saw the goat, which God
had selected. He sacrificed it, then

returned home. And from that day on
Abraham became an old man. He could
never forget what God had demanded
of him. They arrived home. Sarah hurried

in before them, but Isaac had lost his faith.
Neither Isaac nor Sarah ever spoke
of what they had seen. And Abraham never
suspected that anyone had seen him.


More poems from the same volume on HLO: Legends of the transhuman

Translated by: Ottilie Mulzet

Tags: Szilárd Borbély