04. 15. 2009. 09:02

Wittgenstein and my grandmother (poems)

Imre Korizs

And just when god lost a small life
man would accidentally find it,
an old coin of an unknown exotic country.
He would study it, not recognising the writing,
He couldn’t decide on its value, although
the jeweller would take it only for scrap gold.

As well

And just when god lost a small life
man would accidentally find it,
an old coin of an unknown exotic country.
He would study it, not recognising the writing,
He couldn’t decide on its value, although
the jeweller would take it only for scrap gold.
Then better to find its rightful owner and give it back,
or perhaps he might receive a fair reward for it.
 
Translated by Ágnes Lehoczky 
 
 
Wittgenstein and my grandmother

The meaning of a word is its use ?
said Lajos Wittgenstein.
 
I am Hungarian, I was born Hungarian,
the song my nurse hummed to me was Hungarian,
in Hungarian my mother taught me to pray
and to love thee, my beautiful country ?
my grandmother used to chant, with tears in her eyes.
 
One by one, I could tick her assertions for their inherent truth:
my grandmother was born Slovakian,
she had no nurse, Great-grandma taught her to pray in Slovakian,
a tak dalej.
 
My grandmother ? otherwise a pure-blooded person from the Bakony ?
was later to refer to the family’s echte Hungarian friends in Slovakia
as the Czechs.
 
The meaning of a word is its use ?
 
With my grandfather, they were great football fans,
travelling even to country championships with the team,
and once in Diósgyor, a hooligan
spat sunflower seeds into my granddad’s hat.
 
The events of the DAC–Slovan match
(0–4, with Vlk in the lead), was summed up in the press as
a constructive game without creative solutions,
Dunaszerdahely could not rob points
from the list leader even on home ground.
 
Although they were kicking balls even at the grandstand.
 
The meaning of the viper is its use.
 
Translated by Mónika Mesterházi
 
 
Landscape in Motion
(to an artist)
 
And some day, fine weather, the sculptor
will arrive and unwrap the pattern of space from ice
with the chisels of sunrays,
whistling dogs amongst trees.
Life, like a prodigy
which has not quite developed its own style yet,
will conjure green foliage on the branches
enveloping them with flowers –
and all of a sudden it may change its mind:
and decide on apples and pears instead.
(And the spectators will stand with mouth agape
thinking this somehow speaks to them more than to anyone else.)
The master, all along, will turn its back on them,
watching two cats through the window,
knowing it is simultaneously both of them,
tamed by summer,
this rebellious dilettante,
who, for having memorised how to fasten bow-ties
and for wearing colourful tails,
had to learn its lesson and pay for its own spontaneity.
In the end, pricelessly, autumn,
a disowned amateurish gallery-owner
will buy everything, item by item,
bribing with its inflating currency.
The scavenging veterans of winter
will share the rest, and frost will
build minefields from snow,
leaving the scenery with worn-out
road-blocks, inaccessible,
thick ice-lava will run on the ground
like on a factory yard from a cooled furnace.
Then the master, all along turning his back
will say, just when it’s over: it’s over.
 
Translated by Ágnes Lehoczky 
 
 
Imre Korizs (Budapest, 1970) is a poet, translator and Classical scholar. He works as editor of a business journal.

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