Monday, October 1, 2007

miklós radnóti

In 1944, Hungarian jew Miklós Radnóti was deported to a labor camp in Yugoslavia. Too weak to walk he was shot to death with other prisoners. The mass grave in which they were buried was exhumed after the war and Radnóti's last poems, describing incidents of the march, were found in his trench coat pocket by his wife.

From "Foamy sky "

The moon sways on a foamy sky,
I am amazed that I live.
An overzealous death searches this age
and those it discovers are all so very pale.
The forest bled and in the spinning time
blood flowed from every hour...
...I lived to see that and this,
the air feels heavy to me.
A war sound-filled silence hugs me as before my nativity.
...I stop here at the foot of a tree,
its crown swaying angrily.
A branch reaches down -- to grab my neck?
I'm not a coward, nor am I weak,
just tired. I listen.
And the frightened branch explores my hair.
To forget would be best,
but I have never forgotten anything yet.
Foam pours over the moon
and the poison draws a dark green line on the horizon.
I roll myself a cigarette
slowly, carefully. I live.

--Tajtékos ég, translated by Gina Gönczi


Antonia said...

this is a great poem (and almost had written foam) that you found there. Absolutely great. I must go to the library and see whether there is more.

nico said...

Yes, there's a book published by Princeton UP:
"Foamy sky : the major poems of Miklós Radnóti" / selected and translated by Zsuzsanna Ozsváth and Frederick Turner
Published Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1992