YOU'RE HERE : HOMEEnglishVeszely TranslationsSzilágyi, Domokos:…

Szilágyi, Domokos: Bartók in America

Written by Admin in English -

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

How wide is the ocean

for him who thinks of home  —

who is pained more when so painfully short is the way.

And a hundred fold the woe for him who, by and by,

can’t even worry from the worry.

Woe betide you flesh and blood stranger!

Organic machine is here the man –

just try to love it – yet this is your job –

and not with love measured in kilos.

How deeply debased have you fallen from

spectrum snowcapped mountains,

from rainbow snowcapped mountains,

into the fire cast

ash of an outcast

like good Peter Radouy,

and the bride of his eye –

Marinka  in Rumanian

Marika in Hungarian –

the bride of young Peter Radouy’s eye

Marika in Hungarian

Marinka in Rumanian?

Oh-me-god, the world’s a noose,

to some too tight, to some too loose,

unto the bone cuts its tight rope,

through milk marrow, through crunch-crushed bone,

and oh how loose gets the tether,

when bright-lit skies bring good weather!

A man is a working beast,

he can suffer himself thus,

and one day there may be a goal

in a world already planned to death.

For everything has cause and aim

and is of to some benefit;

the design of the future

is in the wrinkles of the face –

this is destined for under the ground,

that is destined for the stars.

To compose? Is that still possible?

Oh well… One still works.

The girls of Hungary’s lowlands

Rumanian Carpathians,

the tent dwellers in Arab lands

the Turks who live in huts not tents:

the ancient songs – forever new

because each of them will renew,

renewed by self-renewing folk –

and no one knows this like Bartók.

“Do not toss your pearls in front of pigs

so that they may not be trampled under their feet and,

turning on you, they may not tear unto you.” (Matthew 7:6)

In evening clothes and tuxadoes

Ladies and gentlemen, gentlemen and ladies,

here not the pianist, the lacquer’s the aegis,

orbiting diamonds shine

waltzing chatter

to those of bare ears

the music is clatter.

Little man, can you tell

beautiful lies,

can you believe that well,

what all belies?

Do you have strength still left

to strike a pose, alas,

can you empty, bereft,

every last glass?

To what, at last, will you charge

your own night’s grim dark,

when you’re who’s blamed by those

who tore you apart?

The home pains, who denied you,

the home pains, whom you denied.

From death into the dying runs the one who lives –

Is the road a road that does not exist?

There is little room for life where there is too much blood,

there is too little room for men where there’s too much god.

Him whom fate wants to sustain:

will burn in hope to the grave, no less –

while those that fate disdains

bestows with helplessness.

Worry is money, while freedoms provide,

worry is stillness, when all is not still.

To understand all – yourself cannot hide:

your own soul embarrasses you at its will,

when your own self it does not recognize –

where meek submission must prevail

for freedom fit for fingernail.

For the soul, the soul, the soul –

that soul that is now so bereft,

that it can now find happiness –

befriending a cat.

(Indeed you did, you did anon –

the while you lived in Mount Vernon.)

Marinka,  Margitka,

in the grave’s urn,

from your lips roses bloom –

hands trampled by dirt;

bride of Peter Radouy,

light of his eye,

Marinka, Margitka

part earth and part sky.

Faraway is the hate – but also the love withal,

will you have company on your journey,

no less,

from West Side Hospital

to everlastingness?

No hurt may be measured except by its gain –

Will it be understood how truly worth was the pain

to express such great bitterness

to be understood by the smallest of pettiness?

Oh-me-god the world’s a noose,

to some too tight, to some too loose,

unto the bone cuts its tight rope,

through milk marrow, through crunch-crushed bone,

and oh how loose gets the tether

when bright-lit skies bring good weather!

Wooden prince of pain of late,

hammer-hardened stone of hate,

allegro-barbaro-present, bring

on a polyphony of dreams!

Oh, future, resonate

from the finite to the infinite,

on the purposeful strings!

Resonate through,

from the finite to infinity,

the conscious, purposeful magic – – 

For self-compromise is tragic,

no less,

and only that is true which is endless.


Basha Peshta had to die



Basha Peshta had to die



coveted calling –

nature organizes itself into music


its voices

(humming is the deep-brown-eyed –

here only Mr. Bartok –

among Americans a European

among skyscrapers a man of nature.)

Over its cry, pounded onto tear-soaked nerves,


steps over the world –

aye –

by passing life’s immutable sounds.

The red corpuscles, dying, make no sound.

Do you have the right to condemn

– for in it and from it you live –

the present,

that in its consternation, mayfly-like,

short-lived concepts presents?

But he who creates cannot step back within –

and once he has grown out of all clothes,

trembles naked on the unknown shores

until the world catches up with him.

At last the thought crashes through every dazzling form –

a bitter road is this toward simplicity.

Bitter and long is the road from proof to revelation,

from reasoning to the forming of axioms, — bitter and long

is the road: for it is life. And life is proof.

The axioms may bring shame to logic:

but be the masterpieces of truth.

Bitter and long is the road from existence to knowledge,

from knowledge to recognition.

The blissful method of acquiring knowledge is not

description but creation;

and that of recognition is struggle.

Thus tranquillity is born out of a balance of restlessness.   

Nothing is for naught: nature does not waste,

and even if it does: it is of necessity.

Not your words – only yourself you have wasted –

often not  only the kitchen budget,

but freedom itself has to be proportioned –

so that some of it is left for tomorrow.

The budgeting has been imposed; the wasting of self is of

necessity: an act of resolution.

You always loathed those who have invented certain things

only to create an opposite to that which already existed.

Does it give you solace if you waste yourself of necessity?

“…and the world I recreate at will at any time”

(Aladár Lászlóffy)

The world loves to be recreated:

for the recreation itself

becomes objective reality:

thus the world becomes everlasting.

Matters not the I, the you, the he,

my eternal life – only our struggle

matters for universal survival.

Uncomprehendingly lives and dies the one,

who does not understand the dialectics of emotion.

You can pity the androgynous species:

double the function – double the loneliness.

They can never understand that life,

the hopelessly loved, is:

interdependence, and that the highest

form of organization forms love.

For every living creature

shares a thousand deaths –

the stone also cries.

Of the dreary days of horror

time itself tires.

Man is a working beast;

his goal is at once hope, and so

even the much feared death is not so


Nights’ raining down secrets

are appeased by the sun.

He who sees the far light is the happy one.

He without false hopes is contented yet pained,

to be mirrored in a grandchild’s eyes is

to be  redeemed.

Translated by Frank Veszely  May 5, 2006

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *