Tuesday, June 19, 2012

With a Pure Heart

By Attila Jozsef

Translated by John Batki

I am fatherless, motherless, 
godless and countryless, 
have no cradle, no funeral shroud, 
and no lover to kiss me proud. 

For the third day I have had 
no food, not a piece of bread. 
My strength is my twenty years-- 
I will sell these twenty years. 

And if no one heeds my cry, 
the devil may choose to buy. 
My heart's pure, I'll burn and loot, 
if I must, I'll even shoot. 

They will catch me and string me up, 
with the good earth cover me up, 
and death-bringing grass will start 
growing from my beautiful, pure heart.

(Attila Jozsef  is recognized as one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. Attila had a painful existence: his childhood was marked by poverty and tragedy, and his adulthood was plagued by depression and psychological instability. At the age of 32, Attila committed suicide by throwing himself under the wheels of a freight train.
But I do not want to focus on his death; rather, I would like to focus on the way that he is still living, and that is through his powerful poetry. Every Hungarian is well-acquainted with his life and his poems, and most of them seem to know one or two of his poems by heart, having been required to memorize his verse as part of their education. The above is one of them. The poem is  just raw, deeply personal, sad and revolutionary in its theme and style.)

No comments:

Post a Comment