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Pintér, László: The Kossuth Emblem

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Robbed of glory, tread underfoot

lay our thousand year old country –

murderous hordes with terror ruled it,

stripped it of its wealth and glory.

Thousand years our blood’s been flowing:

thousand years, abandoned, fought,

died a thousand deaths – yet living,

frozen – burned – and glories wrought.

Steeled ourselves in combat, battle,

strong as steel our will to live,

time-tested is our strong mettle,

always ready all to give.

All the glory of our proud past

shone through our October days,[i]

our shame – now gone at long last –

washed clean by our blood again.

Seven chiefs in far Lebedia,[ii]

seven tribes in blood unite,

form a nation, long enduring

days of glory, labor, strife.

And thus, christened by their own blood,

their great pact[iii] holy become,

settling where four great rivers flood,[iv]

one for all – and all for one.

Raised on shields and chief among them,

their prince[v] to them truly swore:

promising to be their equal –

thus relates the ancient lore.

He was the one who won our land,

he was the one all who lead,

for eleven years accused, stand

we: betrayed their covenant.

Four great rivers soaked up, carried,

sweat, blood of Hungarians –

four great rivers cleansed the harried,

oppressed by barbarians.[vi]

Our ideals – pure as our lands –

justice surely do deserve,

our souls, now clean as are our hands,[vii]

sunshine, green fields, bliss – preserve!

Three green hills[viii] in sheen of sunshine,

fruits of labor weigh their sides,

for them once more we sacrifice,

so that they with us abide.

Robbed of glory, tread underfoot,

mocked by paid-off scum of Earth,[ix]

eastern hordes,[x] dastardly, uncouth,

soiled our soul and soiled our hearth.

Could not stand our ancestors shamed:

protested – they shot us dead,

wanted us slovenly and tamed –

instead, we all raised our head.

Ancient blood surged through our young veins

and – while the world cheered and jeered –

routed our rowdy foes in

days – Petőfis[xi] born again!

Ancient flag and ancient emblem

lead us in heroic fight,

reclaiming for us our own land –

as daylight reclaims the night.

Saw our flag fly high on rooftop,

emblem worn over the heart,

soaked in blood and October’s slop,

proud eyes through the darkness dart.

In the autumn winds unfurled and

carried, held high by our youth,

stood again our ancient emblem,

emblem of Lajos Kossuth.[xii]

It appeared on tanks and armor,

chalked with crayon there by hand;

years denied – now held with ardor –

sacred symbol of our land.

Our proud history behind it:

saints, heroes – living and dead –

shared allegiance, sweared to hold it

in honor until the end!

Cleansed by holy blood of heroes,

emblem on which heaven shined,

in this symbol lives our country,

live again all those who died.

Translated by Frank Veszely,

Kamloops, August 1, 2006

[i]      Reference to the Hungarian revolution in October, 1956.

[ii]     Region the ancient Magyar tribes are now thought to originate from.

[iii]    Reference to the blood pact between the seven tribal chiefs of the Magyars, uniting the tribes into a nation.

[iv]    Reference to the Carpathian Basin, and the rivers Duna, Tisza, Dráva, Száva, the historic Kingdom of Hungarians.

[v]     Reference to Prince Árpád. The Árpád dynasty was the first dynasty of Hungarian kings.

[vi]    Reference to the barbaric communist regime under Soviet occupation prior to the October revolution.

[vii]   Reference to the 1956 revolution being  pure: it was conspicuously devoid of mass murders and vendettas (except those initiated by the communists), and looting.

[viii]  The Kossuth emblem, a shield, features three hills, the top middle of which holds a double cross.

[ix]    Reference to the Hungarian communists

[x]     Reference to the Soviet Red Army

[xi]    Sándor Petõfi (1823 – 1849) considered Hungary’s greatest poet, freedom fighter, presumed to have died in battle, fighting in the Hungarian Revolutionary Army of 1848.

[xii]   Lajos Kossuth, (1802 – 1894) leader of the Hungarian revolution of 1848, after whom the shield shaped emblem, the subject of this poem was named.

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