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attila jozsef | the song of a grieving hungarian

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The Song of a Grieving Hungarian

(Bus Magyar eneke) by Jozsef Attila, translated from the Hungarian by Paul Sohar

A song is flying far a field, on raven wings of evening breeze,
a frayed-faced little man is singing, about the things he sees
around him in a silenced land, a Hungary in a daze,
and about summer slipping off, early fall, love and craze.

Toward the heart and eye sockets, his body suffers, pain-possessed;
can he ever rise again, or is he ready for eternal rest?

In the mist of distance his Hungarian song seeks out god,
it can’t help but mourn his old home, brothers, his wasted sod.
In Transylvania his rose mood got mired in cold mud,
In the Northern Highlands, his once-green hope is now a dud.

Toward the heart and eye sockets, his body suffers, pain-possessed;
can he ever rise again, or is he ready for eternal rest?

He’s got a zither with strings reaching to the stars’ high tiers.
On it he’s playing ballads of tearful blood and bloody tears.
Delirious evenings have fled and frozen in the Dolomites,
his bride, a broken lily, unknown she faded from the lights.

Toward the heart and eye sockets, his body suffers, pain-possessed;
can he ever rise again, or is he ready for eternal rest?

He’s well past watching for mirages, lets them sail on with their beams,
his eyes are shut and no longer tempted by vain and fickle dreams.
On the graves of pals he spills forget-me-nots out of his hand
and keeps praying: Oh Lord, please, do not forget this land!

Toward the heart and eye sockets, his body suffers, pain-possessed;
but if it helped his land, he’d live forever and never rest.

From Big Hammer No. 10, 2007. Iniquity Press / Vendetta Books. This issue is available by clicking here…

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