Versek angolul

Versek angolul


[fogd a szekercét, fiam.]



you take the hatchet, son.


I’d sooner stay, father.


come on. the sun will soon have set,

no one knows who it forgets or why.


I’ll wait for you up on the hillside, father.

the birds still cherish us though

we catch them in our mind’s eye.


(my hand recalls

each requisite motion.

the blade is cool, the moss

makes bold. the rock, my face

are motionless.)


(a tunnel of trees closed

above. is the infinite

just endless longing?

my body knows,

the knife has stopped.)





[belátom, bolondság volt: izgalom]



Silly of me I admit. beaming

into gifts, gasps, candlelight and tinsel,

making my first wifely Christmas seem

more childish than any has before or since.


you turned up late. bustling, I’d come

to see us as a family by then.

and long years later, when we’re dad and mum

our kid’s not going to feel we’re kidding him


for we’ll be careful. it’s so simply done

so long as we’re devoted, seek to concert

contentment—rows eschewed, words minced


not had, others’ gladness recompensed

in smiles and glances, affirmations won

not wrung, meant not feigned

—I’ll wash your shirt.




[csapszék királya, elfogadtalak.]



I accepted you, I took you on,

barstool king. behind the pocks a velvet

voice. eyes blue with candour, whether bells

toll or chime. Scalliwag, tatterdemalion,


that’s you. that’s how I like you. so just go.

a lying, cheating, thieving creature. mister

male, mister frail, that’s you. twist,

womanize, add more strings to your bow.


I know, sir knight, sir lemon, every trait

and way of yours, and hair that’s not yet gone.

to me your shoulders bear a golden gate


of rolling sunlight, gull’s wings dipping on

the pondwater. no, no, Titania’s fate’s

to love the ass’s head, not Oberon’s.







shy feet that seek a purchase tread

the dead-marks on the litter.

treetop rooks alert.

the sky a purple seal.


rash drums that harbinger slick arrows

roll, survivors, losers grimace,

muscles seethe, phases

come calm, convulsed—move on.


catch hands while I can still catch yours,

a fraught wind beckons, bodes to whisk

me too, clears you the stage

my son, with gusty laugh.







How dare you intrude on my grief, stranger?

Send me away. But I’ll keep returning.

Who are you?

Bearer of news. A man condemned.

A freeman. I feel, not pry. I shatter

Rock, distance within me. Or am I dreaming?

Is the island distant then? Tell me!

Can’t you follow what the wind is saying?

Comes a time when our games are over,

Ever noticed? rocking horse, anguish

and apple pie are identical,

because they live, because they’re meant for man.

Whoever you are, the island’s lost.

Enjoy how the wind gets up in the song.

I just wanted to hear your voice. You’re

The island. I’ll go then. The dream defeats me.

I can’t find my own voice either. I quake,

because the dream defeats you, I don’t know

When death begins or what the rocks repel,

If not a voice, what is this dreadful

Calm? I don’t know who died in you,

If I’m an island, I don’t want to be.

Whether you’re an island, worm or shade,

I’d still discover you in hell deep down.

But there’s no silence. Here no pity either.




[N.N.Á temetése után]



no thanks—no tributes at my funeral, please,

floral or otherwise. no poems either.

bury me at night, grave unmarked.

you might just as well console each other

at home. or the web café might still be open

you could stop by for a chat, the waiter

would be glad to have the flowers. don’t

trouble yourselves: as I look up at the stars,

I’ll think well of you all, but I was born

a hypocrite, so if I should just happen

to fly over, I won’t give you a wave.


(those I’ve had to take my leave of, turn

away a moment:) easy does it, broom.




[a madarakkal mindig baj lehet]



the gulls could always get up to something.

and the wind too. Cathy’s ice-cold hand

scratching the casement. colder in spring.

is that why all the chances slip in the end?


sound. mew some intelligible sound.

and in return leave with an easy mind.

for what account would anyone demand

of you? you flock together, bob and bound


among the sun-bowed reeds, and none to turn

and ask if morning breaks or evening falls

around. my son would be long asleep by now


if he’d been born. it’s really not your concern

I dream of you. should I be abashed somehow?

the birds? oh, no trouble with them at all.



all poems translated by Brian McClean







as crickets chirrup, then begin again

while at my side my son goes off to sleep

meaninglessly I try to calculate

what it is that remains to be done


they’ve captured him… he killed from jealousy…

later they show a picture of the corpses…

Siamese twins… and the bomb explodes…

Black: the rescue team had stepped on him…


however, more than each piece of bad news

the season’s sluggish passing troubles me,

not having done a thing today, not having

waged any kind of personal campaign:


all I can do is shudder, watch, be wary,

polish up people, objects, as if I could

wash off a two thusand year old stain,

the crickets chirrup, and the night is fine


translated from the Hungarian by Christopher Whyte






in the shadow of the tower blocks

on a tattered mattress

a homeless man, awakening,

rubs his eyes


maybe he’s pleased the sun is shining

maybe he longs for a dark lair

as Wittgenstein longed for Norway

maybe the soul can’t stand the light


the body thirsts for, maybe

he believes reality is

his skin trembling in delight,

forgets he is no less debased


than the other creatures

copulating on the other mattresses


translated from the Hungarian by Christopher Whyte





every morning the fiddler

and the woman stand

in the same place. the woman

holds the music and smiles, the man

plays in the morning twilight,

in the dust, amidst hawkers

and people hurrying to work

the tune rings out so clearly

maybe even Bach

wouldn’t think it a sacrilege,

maybe he’d look for the underpass

chapel, stand between them,

maybe he’d bring his children,

they’d set out their little seats,

the wind’s organ would peal forth

and the onlookers, amazed,

would relearn the meaning of joy


                            translated from the Hungarian by Christopher Whyte





Who’s that in front of the old guy? Go, my son.

That’s all. By way of leavetaking, one more

word. Of importance to both me and you.

Our undisturbed expressions must reveal

nothing of how we cope. The crowd can listen.

The great discourse only a means of teaching.

Your face must be a see-through garment, clean,

beautiful. A place it’s good to look out from.

Forgiveness today’s task. Depart, my son.

He’s coping OK talking his leg doesn’t

tremble if we insisted would he weep?

That’s how you leave me. You were a father to me,

a master. Now you hand me over to them.

I learnt it’s not allowed to run away.

Everything’s white. Your voice far off. But still

I hear it. And it’s mine. And if I choose,

it will ring out. Beyond that: work? No place

for weakness: beautiful you said? I think so.

He crumples, falls. People are hesitating.

To kill or else to kill? Today? Tomorrow?

The young guy by the wall grab him look

the hemlock’s working cheer up lad

we’ll get a drink today you’re free


translated by Christopher Whyte





Who’s waiting on the shore, for how long, who

for? Lots of people tried to work it out.

Here from inside the well-warmed room I look

out now from time to time, my hair’s

still wet. If I put on your shirt, and drink

out of your glass, mould my internal devil

using you as a model, all that means

is that I’m not above reproach. When you

explained to me you weren’t THE ONE, were not

ready to carry anybody’s cross,

I understood you were a dangerously

good, and therefore evil angel. Don’t

pull me with you, I feel dizzy. But if

it’s necessary, you can find me here,

inside. Getting warmed up in preparation.


                             translated by Christopher Whyte






I had another dream. Round about fifty

good friends came to attend our wedding.

I was in white, the autumn shut, unreal.

They took the horses to drink. In the garden

the trees were full of colours. In the house

bustling servants offered reassurance.

Unseen hands flew along dark corridors.

There was no need for you to say you were

leaving, until then eternity

had been our own, there had to be an end

to the great silence, I’d already slipped out from

your grasp, amidst the walls which closed

around me in a watchful circle. I

can say you were long-suffering, yes, and breathe

a sigh of relief. Yes, you did your best.


                            translated by Christopher Whyte









inby the howff they huddled together

between the two guys a skull-headed woman

behind dabs of light gasping in the reek

the voice: deep: one who was much loved


the wee fella stooped in the doorway

holding his mother’s hand. music played.

what little appeared of his father’s face

let them know it was late and he was far gone


laughing into the face of that skull

a gruesome guttural laughter,

his blotches turned purple

glass clattered, outside it snowed




the trots. barfing the weekend’s programme

year in year out. the gales through the night

settling into hospital silence

because: temperature taken, the need to eat,

to buy medication and measure it out

redd up the wardrobe in the heart, wash

as instructed to remove stubborn memories


convictions? built only on oblivion

every new beginning is the pinch of death

they open the window that the wee one won’t know

it’s the fug of despair




aged seven, he dodged bullets.

he’d been sent out for milk: it was ’56


grandma Shorty, she lived on

when she died he just kept shtum


Shorty was blue-eyed and was a granny

granddad stayed on in the carriage


granddad didn’t even get wormy

history didn’t say to granddad


that he suffered only forty seconds

granddad didn’t have a grandson


he became a ned, a City Park gurrier

and a jessie too, brainy, enlightened,


in the labyrinth of women, horses, the living and the dead

rushing about so long


till his corpus of acquired knowledge

closed in on him: no exit strategy


Version by Tom Hubbard with the author and

Zsuzsanna Varga



inby – within; howff – pub; can also mean a graveyard (German Hof); reek – smoke;

the trots – diarrhoea; barfing – vomiting; redd up – clear up, tidy; fug – stale air;

shtum– discreetly silent (of German origin – perhaps Yiddish?); ned (Glaswegian), gurrier (Hiberno-English) – juvenile delinquent, young tough, gang member; jessie – a softie, cissy





adult life

tall pine.

behind, yellow church.

harmony of tower and

timbered roof is

light and shadow.


between two plastic sheets

the breast is pressed

with permitted power.

an adult doesn’t escape.

signs. and shadow


is cast upon the image. a growth,

huge. cold is creeping

towards the heart. in the waiting room

the silence of space. anxiety becomes

indifference. on the print-out

light and shadow.


Version by Tom Hubbard with the author and Zsuzsanna Varga