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Frank Veszely: Translations from Hungarian greats

Bessenyei György (1747 – 1811)

The Joy of Morning on the River Tisza (A Tiszának reggeli gyönyörűsége)

Once again awaking on Tisza River’s shore,
Where I walked, as a youth, a thousand times before,
Noting the bolting sky with its blue-hued tableau
Lighting up with fire from the Sun’s morning glow.
So the dawn starts to smile on our whole wide world, or
Spreading its bright spirits on our half-dream torpor?
Fogs of the passing night turn into rising steam,
To the feet of mountains, into the valleys stream.
From here they are letting whisps of mists waft upwards:
Communication is this between old stalwarts.
Serenely all nature takes a collective breath,
Wakes up from its deep sleep, new working day begeth.
Waiting for the new day, both mountain and forest
Just lie there silently, each still having a rest.
Still sleepy, but waking, we can see that nature’s
Starting a working day with her living creatures.
Above it all the glowing sun’s rays swiftly spread,
Into the sea the moon with the stars dash ahead.
Lit by the golden rays, forests shine green anew,
Playful sparks sparkle in every drop of the dew.
Night limps away on its walking stick made of lead,
Soon the day starts to shine, rising briskly instead.
From the periphery the Sun its zenith arcs,
Sending into the sea’s deep shadows all that’s dark.
All around us nature is laughing heartily,
Whose ruckus can be heard starting up readily:

Forests reverberate with many kinds of sounds:
Birdsong cacaphone blended with yelping hounds,
Nearby the forester, hunters’ horns at distance,
Sounds of the merry chase echoed by the sharp axe.
Over the water the fishermen can be heard,
Plying the waters for fish in this misty world.
Cast to the pastures countless cattle’s heard to low,
Sometimes among the reeds their long mooing echo.
Their hungry mouths mow all, leaving only the roots,
Above them one can hear several shepherd’s flutes.
From the Tisza’s wide bank, observing all of this,
Happiness overtook my soul in joyful bliss.
On both sides huge poplars seemed to support the sky,
Deeply rooted in mud, their cracked barks were yet dry.
As if their insatiable thirst could not be quenched,
Their widely spread low branches bent down to be drenched.
On them green-white leaves were rustling, very softly,
Hidden among them the cool drafts became lofty.

Midst all of this the Tisza’s flow was quieting,
Moving so slowly as though if it was thinking.
Toward midstream it formed swirling froths of yellow,
Twigs and leaves moseyed on the surface to follow.
Hiding from each other, deep down the currents whirled,
Till against the shoreline themselves here and there hurled.
Elsewhere, where the shoreline was covered by forest,
Tall trees stood listening, themselves taking a rest.
A pair of turtle doves entertained above them,
Wings clapping, lost in what just then entertained them.
The Tisza itself seemed to enjoy this ado:
The love-dove prattling and wing flapping bill and coo.
Yet elsewhere, where wide plains did embrace the river
Shriek sounds would startle us, making our spines shrivel.
Indeed the cranes’ startling, reverberating cry
Seems to be destined to fill the entire sky.

Beautiful and graceful birds here also abound,
Stretching the horizon fly the large flocks of swans.
Their wings let out a peculiar double clap;
Whistling, they flew over, traveling at good clip.
Game birds, also plenty, flew over in large flocks,
Some could be seen to fall after a shotgun shot.

Midst such affairs have I wandered Tisza’s shorelines,
Felt its water’s vortex, and near where the shore lies,
Underneath the willows, by the grassy quicksand,
I would contemplate long, many an hour spend,
Cultivating my joy in all, reverently,
While intoxicating my sensitivity.
In my nostrils I felt the smells of every spring,
All that wafted my way, all that the wind would bring.
Such is the place where I was born into this life,
Man-child of nature until the day I shall die.

Kamloops, 2008 April 28

Kazinczy Ferenc (1759 – 1831)

The One without Religion (A vallástalan)

With sopping eyes I have been long observing these
Adacious fools of mindlessness – that is zealots,
Whose limping missteps take them from this side to that
Of their delusions. With conceited haughtiness
They look back on their own path, now abandoned, where
Blind faith holds tethered trembling followers.

With blown-up self-conceit, noisily proclaimed, they
Pursue the beaten path, boasting of new church bells,
Of silliness. “Look,” they say, “our path is the true path,
Your feet will not be hindered on it by the weeds.
There is no convolution, a string marks your path,
And every step will take you farther and farther
From the tear-drenched altars of the blinded faithful.
They’ve been captured by darkness, thick obscurity,
They walk mincingly, blindly drag their lazy feet about,
Wherever their priest stumbles in the dark; they will
Believe what he wishes/commands them to believe.
Become like sheep, fearful of retribution, live
Like beasts all through their lives without tasting sweetness.”

Thus they. But we are always guided by the light,
Its wholy temple always open wide for us,
Where scene by scene its secrets are revealed.
Credulity we laugh at, by which cunning priests
In the dark ages the blind folks by their noses lead,
And by which in enlightened times amass treasures.
On ourselves we depend: free life is on our right,
On our left self-amusing merriment resides;
We are not frightened if the sky bursts into light,
We are not frightened although thunder shake the Earth.
If lightning strikes, more easily and without pain
I fall to the abyss; if it does not strike, then
Useless and childish was all that cowardly fear.
I shall live as I wish, spend my life happily,
Beholden to no duty but that I fancy:
I am myself my friend, my country and my god.

Kamloops, April 29, 2008

Batsányi János (1763 – 1845)

Encouragement (Bíztatás)

To live for one’s country, to take risks, to do well
by it, courageously, of yourself to suffer;
For it not accepting harm, enslaverment, danger,
And for all sacrifice always yourself render –

My friend! These are such things that for a man
On the field of honour raise monument,
Though for which in your life many resent,
Good men will always bless as a godsend.

On the changes in France (A franciaországi változásokra) [i.e. the French Revolution]

Nations and countries! Entrapped and enslaved,
Groaning under burdens, roped and ill fated,
Iron-yoked till you go into sad graves,
Who until now did not have what it takes;
And you also whom nature itself appalled,
By your own serfs’ ordained hangman are called,
Come, and to look into what awaits you,
To Paris cast your watchful eyes now – do!

The visionary (A látó)

Make merry, mournful mind! the world will soon renew,
And sooner than a new century turn anew.
Ring, resonate harp! may that all listen to it,
All who into nation, into a country fit,
And who under changing, yet Hungarian sky
Still prefer freedom and manhood for which to die.
Oh you whose hearts have been long sad and low
Look! the sun of your hopes started to glow,
Look! The rays of the truth started to spread,
Falling are old wive’s tales, altars of dread,
Which served for centuries idols of dark,
Whose reign of oppression much spilled blood mark.
That heroic nation rose, have risen now wholly,
Destined deliverer of what’s truly godly,
With his arms, now unfettered, he is free to show us
What can be achieved if we only take what’s owed us.
Rights repressed no longer, idols fall into dust,
Our common enemies are sent from boom to bust.
While these are descending down to the depths of hell,
Friendly arms extending to us, this message tell:
„Let moral rules govern, be governed by ethics,
nations and countries, come, all pay homage to it,
let reason, fairness rule, not mean adversity:
law and equality, merit and liberty!”
Shocked, the world takes notice, the message is welcome,
The long awaited hour by all at last has come.
Thrones that were built from their subject’s bones, still aching,
Fall apart as pebbles, others begin shaking.
In panic, blood-thirsty tyrants, crowned murderers,
Now see their own fate come from their deliverers.
Those upon whose harsh words thousands were sent to death,
Who destroyed whole towns now hold their collective breath.
Make merry, mournful mind! the world will soon renew,
And sooner than a new century turn anew.

Kamloops, May 4, 2008

The Hungarian Writer (A magyar író)

„Like the burning torch that’s flaming in the dark night,
that consumes itself while for others it sheds light.”
While non-comprehenders judge him audaciously,
Cowardly slave-minded feel entitled to glee,
While wise heads marvel and happily cheer him on,
Seeing at last on dim minds some light shine upon:
He (though he knows a few already appraises
His good intentions, and himself appreciates),
Finding his own reward in his own venture,
Puts his trust in better folk of the future,
And hopes that ancestor Árpád’s true descendants
For his faithful service will render heartfelt thanks.

Kamloops, May 5, 2008

Verseghy Ferenc (1757 – 1822)

The Choosey (A válogató)

That I for a rich lady
give up my own peace of mind,
Who, once made me her payee,
hold my pure love in her bind?
My pearl, though you gold ore be,
heaped as high as heap can be:
Bought bethrothal, finery
is camouflaged slavery.

That I for a proud filly
burden my humanity,
Who for my humility
look down on my family?
My pearl, be of bluest blood,
Melted silver your veins flood:
From my mate scorn and disdain –
worse than poison, worse than pain.

That I for a saintly miss
cloister my whole life away,
Who’ll repay me for my kiss
with guilt, damnation and pray?
Be you pure and white as snow,
be that your saintliness glow:
Thirsting by an empty well’s
nothing but self-wilting hell.

That I for a wise woman
do disturb my peaceful dreams,
Who for love – platonian –
trample, tear them at the seams?
May your wisdom embody
purity without body:
While I wander on two feet,
wind or wisdom I can’t eat.

That I for the beautiful
bring to boil my lusting blood,
Who the next day for Abdul
on my heart merrily trod?
May you look, my Pearl, as well
as a picture-book angel:
I shall never give my love
to an undeserving one!

Kamloops, May 5, 2008

Csokonai Vitéz Mihály (1773 – 1805)

Outburst (Kifakadás)

So help me! I no longer care
Who will say what about me:
For sometimes asses here and there
kick kindly man of great honesty;
Also the most pious might walk
In places where the mad dogs bark.

Whatsoever is said of me,
I’ll let the wind to take it:
There’ll always be insanity,
as I’ll have friends a-plenty.
And so I close my ears and eyes,
And feel my self-worth fill the skies.

Why should I listen to others?
Why compromise unduly?
I am what I am, my brothers,
To myself I’ll live truly.
Nor are better the great many
Endowed with titles or money.

To suit my appetite, I eat,
Others I don’t depend on,
Its proper place I’ll keep my wit,
But those I shall not learn from
Who scarcely have the scarecrow’s brain:
Let them scare the birds – I disdain!

I feel my own good heart inside,
Others I do not cause harm,
And yet, some take my mean foes’ side
against me they would take arms.
Ye bastards all can go to hell –
I may have tripped – I never fell!

Yet others, neck-deep in the wrong,
do seek to rumor-mill me,
While I’m praised by the decent throng
Who – for offices – seek me.
Sonsofbitches, let them bray! Soon
they’ll find their sense by the new moon.

Whomsoever before acquired
Their mean malaise – this mushroom poison,
in vain for doctors called or cried –
their own madness has just carried on.
Upon himself who nonsense takes,
His own good sense himself forsakes.

I am genteel, of noble heart,
Why care about an uncouth farmer?
If peacefully I do my part,
My good name will reach far and yonder.
As I have lived, I shall live still,
Though come what may and come what will.

Kamloops, April 6, 2008

To Hope (A reményhez)

Earthly men your playthings
Oh heavenly tope,
God-like in appearance –
Blind, deceitful hope!
Self-made for his own use
By unhappy man –
Falling for his own ruse
Time and time again.
Smooth talker, why tempt me?
Why so full of smiles?
Dubious desire
Why me still beguiles?
Keep away! You have been
My encouragement;
For my faith repaid me
With discouragement.

My garden narcissus
Filled to overflow,
My trees, fed by cool streams
Were allowed to grow.
Flowers upon flowers
Spread the spring around,
Heavenly happiness,
Fragrant spice abound.
My thoughts every morning,
Like industrious bees,
Headed for my roses,
On wings light as breeze.
Only thing I missed then
Was my Lilla’s love –
Asked, and had been given
My heavenly dove.

Oh, but now my roses
All wilted away,
Dried out are my cool springs,
Trees withered away;
Merryment and springtime
Winter’s cold replaced,
My fortune unworthy
Hands inherited.
If only fate left me
Lilla – nothing else!
There would not be sadness
In my mournful verse:
In her arms I’d gladly
Forget all my woes,
Never would I envy
Wreaths of pearls, eloas!

Leave me, oh hope, leave me!
Leave and let me be!
There’s no use: this hardship
Is the end of me.
In this uncertainty
strength is sapped by hurt:
Soul craves only heaven,
body craves the earth.
Pastures are unfertile,
Fields are blackened, burnt,
Whispering woods fell silent,
Sun has left the Earth.
Charming thrills, colorful
Dreams of happiness,
Hopes! Sweet yearnings! Lillas!
Go with God! God bless!

Kamloops, April 8, 2008

The Evening (Az estve)

In splendorous brilliance now the Sun’s carriage descends,
Expiring spokes of light fade. The dying day thus ends,
With streams of vails to follow, that half hide a pink blush,
Clouds – a golden yellow – turn purple with the dusk.
And thus the gentle evening that smiles upon the land,
Soon takes us under its wings, his flora- fauna friends.
The roses’ lips, still open, drink from the evening dew,
So brilliant by day, now they take a subtle hue,
The songbirds, singing all day, fall silent with the dark,
Clasping the edge of its nest we find the merry lark.
The wildlife – wolves and foxes – begin their evening hunt,
The bear – back in his bear cave – lets out a mighty grunt.

Oh, ye smells and sounds of the balsam evening, come!
Come, soothe my troubled senses, you are indeed welcome!
Oh theatre of nature, a symphony – no less –
Come, dip my soul in your bliss, drench me in happiness!
Delay a while the dark night, the hours of sombre thought,
Do not allow your cold wings reduce my joy to naught!
The racket of the daytime I find to be too much,
Nothing have I to do with the kinds of such and such:
The miser and the mighty, misguided and the rake,
Those drunk with money, power, and always on the take,
That trample each other down, trying to get ahead,
The whole scene just disgusts me, for mankind makes me sad.

Oh, dazed man, what have you done? Gave up freedom, good sense:
You imprisonsed yourself, you manacled your hands.
The Earth was yours – yours wholly – without any restraint,
Before man was divided, relationships got strained.
Once easy satisfaction was granted by filled need;
Nowadays diversified man became governed by greed.
As “ours” was superseeded by the “yours” and the “mine,”
A life of strife and struggle replaced what was divine.
The Earth – before it turned to just title, property –
Supported all: no one was born into poverty.
“Do not take what you don’t need” sufficed as simple law,
And no one sued the other: no legal brouhaha.
No division of labour – men lead more peaceful lives,
From armies and from madness were not lost many lives.
Laws did not create thieves then, claims have not yet been staked,
No stones marked boundaries, and the forests and the lakes
Belonged to all. Its own way each life could then unfold,
Presumptious and haughty lords did not rule the fold,
Men have not lived enslaved, trapped – for life – in their sad lot,
Just so a few might live in the land of Camelot,
In fashionable garbs dressed, stuffed only with the best,
The others, dressed in tatters, fed crumbs, toil without rest.
There were no kings to rule man, each one a millionaire,
Demanding duties, levies, tithes, taxes – without care –
From which to gift his cronies, to keep the few happy,
Who may indulge themselves more – with more delicacy.
The miser did not hide yet from his own fellow men,
Afraid that he’ll be robbed, like he had been, once again,
Perchance by the same thief, whom the thieving world has made,
For no one’s born immoral, no one is born a rake.
What choice has he from whom the fields with ditches are kept,
Whose pasture has been ploughed, and whose forests have been fenced,
For private use by landlords – alone allowed to hunt –
Likewise the streams, pristine lakes, whose fish the poor man taunt.
And thus he lives now – fenced off – by fences his hands built,
From all the goods of this Earth, exploited to the hilt.
You are alone, sweet moonlight, who are not yet for rent,
Fresh air that can be breathed in, that others don’t resent,
The birdsongs over the fields, that freely may be heard,
the sounds of the forests, the soft cooling wind at work.

Oh blessed nature, only you! only you are for me!
You have given me freely birthright and property,
Inheritence you are and my real estate since when,
by your grace I was born to my statehood as a man.

Kamloops, April 14, 2008

Love Song to the Colt-skinned Flask (Szerelemdal a csikóbőrös kulacshoz)

My treasure, my dove-and-such,
My dearest colt-skinned sweet flask
Live for you, I’ll die for you –
Hundred girls I won’t trade you!

Your cheerful, soul-cheering face,
Born to be kissed lips of taste!
When my lips can clasp to it
I don’t miss even Suzie’s.

Oh your breast, filled with spirit,
Carries my own heart in it!
Oh your round lips, filled with taste
Neck worth a golden necklace!

Beautiful hair, thread by thread
Matched with what the best furs fetched,
Although it’s only colt’s skin
To Susan’s saffron akin.

I’m gurgling, you are clucking,
Chicken-like my heart plucking,
Make me merry like naught can,
Turn holiday to heaven!

If sadness in you confide,
I feel my sadness subside,
If I feel filled with some joy,
To it you will add some more.

When cold winds blow all about
You warm me within, without;
When summer’s heat saps my saps,
You replenish what it snapped.

If a while I can’t see you,
How I crave, how I miss you!
Tears of joy spring to my eyes,
When I behold your visage!

You’re with me on my journeys,
Sleep with me at inns, tourneys,
And when I wake from slumber,
Sing your praises the louder.

We’ve been many times to bed,
Even though we’ve not been wed!
Certainly, my dear sweetheart,
We’ll spend the night heart to heart?

Oh if from our love at last
Could be born a few small flasks!
If they could line all my shelves
All filled with wine, merry elves!

Or if I could trade my wife
For a flask – filled for my life!
Her loose skin – as seen anon –
Could hold quite a few gallon!

But, soon saint Michael’s old horse
Will take me laid on a hearse,
By your love consumed. Oh no!
You shall become a widow?

Bitter fate! While still awake,
Drink in advance for my wake:
Can’t let good wine go to dogs –
Let me drink another cask!

Saved for my shroud a penny,
But dead man don’t need money:
Why cover a dead man’s eyes,
He can’t see even if tries.

Dearest Ruby, sweet Honey,
I’ll give you my last penny,
Just give me my farewell bliss:
Just let my lips kiss your lips!

Oh I hug, oh I kiss you,
Till I move or breathe – miss you!
My body next to yours lay
With an epitaph to say:

„Pilgrim pour for me a pint!
Here lies your own merry kind,
Here lies who has done his task,
Partnered with his colt-skinned flask.”

Kamloops, April 14, 2008

The Rich (A gazdag)

Midas does have money, heaps and heaps of treasure –
Still would not trade Midas, measure for a measure.
Pactalus flowed for him with its quicksand of gold,
All Phrygia’s money may be in his household,
Yet what worth is treasure, be it though a house full,
If what houses his brains is void, its contents null?
Thousand sheep on hillsides although he may possess,
Thousand cattle may graze his pastures, nonetheless,
What worth the bragging rights a thousand of such one,
If their own owner is but the thousandth and one?
What worth his rich table filled with fowl, game and fig,
If all this food only serves to fatten a pig?
Living in a palace cannot mean that much, when
Truth is that mere lodging will not better a man.
Lo, in his palace live also his countless dogs,
yet above him live owls and sparrows by the flock.
Neither is news that the slightly insane reside
In street lengths of mansions by Vienna’s rich side.
Himself he dresses in scarlet well laced with gold,
Expecting deep respect in return I am told.
Fancy is fancy and pretty to see of course,
But so are the sleigh bells on a carnival horse.
As to the livery in the days now gone by,
Servants have been decked out by stable and by sty.
Yet more expensively decored were the long horns
Of the sacrificial oxen in Roman homes.
Neither will themselves make titles a man great:
Stray dogs in my village often have many names.
What is it worth to have servants from Phrygia,
Who cowtow to your needs always, ad nausea,
If every reed on the lake and each blade of grass
Whisper that Midas is an empty-headed ass?

April 17, 2008

To Loneliness (A magányossághoz)

Blessed loneliness, come! Take me
Into your dream’s embrace!
Though others may forsake me –
Welcome me face to face!
Dwelling in your presence is blissful;
Living in Kisasszond my cup’s full.
Strolling about without regret –
This place was made for a poet.

Here, in this lonely wooded valley
refreshing shade covers me well,
within this moss-covered spruce alley
a springlet’s freshest waters well.
Between the peaks, the trees and water,
The nymphs by the lakeshore reeds gather,
Coming out from the place they hide
Only for poets and the wise.

The gentle moon’s soft light alight on
The sides of poplars and the birch,
as evening tide pulls cool covers on
The dreams of angels fairies search.
Oh gentle loneliness, just in such places
Delight the soul, the mind embraces;
Oh lead me to these places where
The sagging soul may recover!

Avoiding king’s courts and palaces,
Avoiding where people gather,
You are disliked in all these places
Of strife, worry, and loud clatter.
Where boredom fights with apprehension,
The quest for peace brings only tension.
The world does not know your merit,
And it despizes you for it.

The miser sometimes seeks you in his folly,
To be tormented by his own conscience;
Ambitiousness also repels you, wholly –
among men does it seek its chance.
You run away from trumpets, battle,
Shun also the towns’ noise and prattle:
Your place is is in the feeling heart,
The gentle fields, the village hearth.

The last recourse, indulging in self-pity,
Is to be found in your holy forests:
Encouriging voices from divinity
Unhappy souls provide solace and rest.
Who turned his back upon the world for reason,
Or whom the world itself treated with treason,
You do console, to him you do attend,
Him with himself encourage in the end.

For wise men’s souls you have provided nurture,
To happy fruition you brought their thought,
In your solace was born contentment, virtue,
That contemplation in these souls have brought.
In you the poet’s mind a revelation
Like lightning strikes: a thought of new creation,
As he constructs new things in verse –
From nothing a new universe.

Oh blessed goddess! How long have I been sighing
Myself, awaiting that at last you come!
For you and I do share an understanding
Like good friends we each other bid welcome.
With you there’s no pretending, tension, envy,
You’re always pure, inviting innocently;
Unlike my pompous worldly friends –
You are faithful, without pretense.

Midst what confused prattle are spinning
The would-be proud souls’ busy days,
From stone to stone tumbling and heaving,
Like the Rhine’s cataracts and sprays. –
But when your holy veils descend like a dew,
Our days pass gently and without much ado,
By themselves, purely. And here I
Pristinely live and sweetly die.

When on the brightness of my own eyes also,
At last death weaves its blind final cover,
On entering this lonely world of shadow
Anew my closed eyes you shall discover.
Down into my grave only you will follow
To guide me through oblivion’s bare fallow.
And who shall share my final home?
My guiding angel, you alone!

Blessed loneliness, at last on your lap
Shall I shed my ultimate tears,
Forget all tribulation, mishap,
dissolved in your eternal dreams.
Blessed loneliness, be a good friend, swell,
When in my final resting place shall I dwell!
Oh final day – when will you come?
Blessed loneliness: you are welcome!

Poems of Death (Halotti versek)

Detail (Részlet)

[Confucius]
Himself already praised the Lord, although
Of the immortal soul he did not know,
He was above the biley sage of ours, [Socrates]
Let’s hear some of his high moral discourse:

“Oh death, who art the gentle dream’s brother,
When will you come for me, my eyes cover?
When will descend on me the final calm
that holds promise of everlasting balm,
that of my being nothing should remain,
but a handful of dust – perchance a name?
Like one who’s tired I will go to sleep,
Without any awareness of the deed.
For what the people say about the dead
Will do in their graves is but tales of dread,
Nothing but darkest dreams of the living –
The truly dead rest, they don’t do a thing.
They are in a deep sleep; only who walk
Dream of them and talk of their own dream talk.
They sleep? But their sleep dreaming do not rate:
as dreams from life I cannot separate.
For if from dust indeed we turn to dust,
Nothing becomes nothing, indeed it must;
A man becomes a stinking mess of rot,
His parts decompose wholly on the spot,
The lighter liquid’s lost in the thin air,
Soon only a skeleton is left there.
And this – even if made of hardest ore –
Crumble to clay, would not last evermore.
The oily parts evaporate to air,
As ghostly shapes around graves reappear;
Salty, fat particles collect in dirt,
These the plants’ roots absorb straight from the earth,
From them the grasses and livestock are fed.
And so living become loam, mineral,
The once within become at once withal:
Consumed by growth the consumed thus decay,
And all of nature lives another day.
‘Tis how we sleep! Yet nature cares for all:
no feast but famine – all is cyclical.
The wheels turn evenly always. Indeed,
One’s expiry another thusly feed.
And what was I before I came to be,
From grass and animal took my body?
I deeply slept on lap of the abyss
In the still night of oblivion’s bliss,
Until from nature’s tiniest dead part
Became unstitched and so I’ll play my part
In nature’s fabric once again when die:
A tiny part of nature’s simmetry.
Thankful that I was born a noble beast,
I won’t mind turning mineral the least.
But you, heavenly Lord, what made me for?
Why did you make me smarter than before?
Why gave you me prodigious talent?
Through many means to reach the same dead end?
Drink, food and air through my body to strain,
Free man though be, to suffer all in vain?
Decaying flesh what for fatten and grow –
For one good deed suffer a thousand blow?
No! you are wise, creator, you’ve done well,
For you are one and all just where you dwell:
Our cycle’s turn commences where yours leaves,
And yours begins with our breast’s last heaves.
Wherever your fingertips draw across
Good order’s chain is wrought without a loss.
Aim, order and means you at once create,
You mind the whole which no part can negate.
There is the earth and stone – solid foundations,
The grass the trees to live, provide for nations;
There are the animals to move and die,
An independent mass to multiply.
Created men for good and evil deed,
Some of them stupid, others smart indeed,
Thus everything has gained a time and place
In this good-bad world, be it bright or lame.
From you come aim and means for everything:
Happy the man for whom this is fitting!
Until we have the means, let’s seek the aim:
Who reached his aim he did not live in vain.
I know, and my own feelings do attest,
To find my place in this I did my best,
Either did not abuse my short life, or
Mistakes I made I did feel sorry for.
And now, my work on this earth almost done,
Errors may weigh – don’t feel the guilty one.
And so – my life about to life return –
The candle of solace and hope still burn:
A better man He’ll place where I am at,
And that I lived He never will regret.”

Kamloops, April 22, 2008

Kölcsey Ferenc (1790 – 1838)

Hymn Himnusz

1. The National Anthem [To be sang]

God bless the Hungarian
With good spirit and plenty,
Extend your protective arm
When struggles with emnity!
Whom ill fate so long have rent,
Bring on him a merry year:
This people have long atoned
For both their past and future.

2. The Poem

God bless the Hungarian,
With spirit and plenty,
Extend him protecting arm
When stuggles enmity!
Whom ill fate so long have rent,
Bring on him merry year,
This people, past and present,
Atoned their past, future.

You’ve brought in our ancestors
Through cragged Carpathians,
Much spilled blood of conquerors
Well paid for our home lands.
Where the Tisza’s and Danube’s
Stirred waters gently flow
Sons of Árpád multiplied
A thousand years ago.

Waves of ripened wheat greets us
On our fertile plains
Dripping nectars gave to us
Your grapes on Tokay’s hills.
Our flags you have planted oft
On ramparts of the Turk,
King Mathias raised aloft
Flags to Vienna’s irk.
Ah, but angered by our sins,
Your wrath we did evoke,
Midst thundrous heavenly dins
Your lightning us thus stroke:
Thieving Mongols’ swift arrows
Were buzzing overhead,
Turkish yoke added sorrows
To generations’ dread.

How many times Turkish foes
Sang songs of victory
Over fallen armies’ bones,
In their wild extasy!
How often at your son’s hands
Our country would suffer,
The pursuit of selfish ends
Would end the pursuer?

Hid the refugee, toward
Him only the sword reached,
In his home the homeless ward
For his own homeland searched.
To craig climb, valley descend,
Doubt, worry beside him –
Pools of blood his feet ascend,
Seas of flames above him.

Castle stood, now rubble heap,
Cheer, happiness took flight –
Death rattle and wailing weep
Heard instead in dark nights.
Ah, freedom will not blossom
From spilled blood of the dead,
Fervent tears of orphaned son
Fall on the enslaved’s head.

God, pity Hungarians,
Danger-tossed once again,
Extend to them guarding arms
On the sea of their pain!
Whom ill fate so long have rent,
Bring on him merry year:
This people, past and present,
Atoned their past, future.

Kamloops, May 6, 2008

Huszt (Huszt)

Ramshackle sad rubble of Huszt Castle I stood upon still,
Quiet was all around, from behind a dark cloud the moon rose.
Wind has come up like a wind will rise from graves. From the crumbling
Pillars of great halls a ghost of horror rose waving towards me.
Said: patriot, what’s the use of the soul yearning for the past,
Shadows of ancient valor what for to be now reminiscing?
With faraway future contemplate the now seriously,
Affect, create, multiply – and the homeland wakes to bright light!

The second Song of Zrinyi (Zrinyi második éneke)

Do look, oh fate, on my suffering homeland
begging you through its blood-stained tears,
for kite and snake and worm attack at once and
will eat its heart it now appears.
The poison burns, it’s pouring on its deep wounds,
Defenceless he fights, all alone.
Great Power, be its mentor as the time winds,
The hour shall come we’ll be without a home.

Much blessing was given, large population
She fed for long upon her breast.
How can this population now abandon,
Its guard duty when called to test?
Heart and soul on such lowly ilk was wasted,
The chance has come and soon was gone,
Protective walls she needed to be laced
Cowardly sons she birthed: her death warrant.

Yet pity, oh Fate, my suffering country,
You fated all her mixed blessings,
The angry group that has attacked her bounty
You fated to be her offsprings.
Trample to death the ilk, slight on my gender,
Let their pale ashes cursed be
But save our mother, protect her from danger
Until more worthy sons her aid can be.

The law still lives. The guiding constellation
Descends on sins of the parent;
Its gentle light will fade and no more shine on
The greying folk’s sad last lament.
The four rivers will see a different homeland
New proclamation, attitude,
The forlorn vistas take on a new face and
Delighted folks enchant with gratitude.

(Kamloops, May 10, 2008)

Kisfaludy Károly (1788 – 1830)

Mohács

Field of grief, reddened by blood of heroes I greet you,
Our national greatness’ great burial site, Mohacs!
Upon its raven wings harsh oblivion hovers above you,
Its destructive anger spent upon you with great force,
And the signs of its blind victory with its lightning
Burnt onto the corpses of our heroic army.
Tomori! Leader of pride! Why did you leave cardinal’s chair?
The flower, pride of our youth, would not have died thus with you.

Petőfi Sándor (1823 -1849)

National Song

Up on your feet! The country calls!
Now or never – the time has come!
To be free men or prisoners?
‘Tis the question – give your answers!
To the God of the Magyars we
Truly swear,
Truly swear, that we shall not live enslaved. No,
Not ever!

Up to now we lived in fetters,
Blaspheming our great ancestors:
Those who lived and died as free men –
Cannot rest in an enslaved land.
To the God of the Magyars we
Truly swear,
Truly swear, that we shall not live enslaved. No,
Not ever!

Vagrant blackguard the sordid knave
Who dares not die when we must dare,
To whom means more his worthless end
Than the honor of his homeland.
To the God of the Magyars we
Truly swear,
Truly swear, that we shall not live enslaved. No,
Not ever!

Unlike chains, swords shine more brightly,
It is swords that make arms mighty —
Yet we carried chains all over?
Out with you, our ancient saber!
To the God of the Magyars we
Truly swear,
Truly swear, that we shall not live enslaved. No,
Not ever!

Our name will be noble once more,
Worthy of our past, our great lore.
Centuries besmirched our good name –
Time to cleanse us of their deep shame!
To the God of the Magyars we
Truly swear,
Truly swear, that we shall not live enslaved. No,
Not ever!

Over revered burial hills
Grandchildren will fall on their knees
And, citing our names in prayer,
They will bless us all forever.
To the God of the Magyars we
Truly swear,
Truly swear, that we shall not live enslaved. No,
Not ever!

(Kamloops, April 24, 2006)

A thought torments me with worry (Egy gondolat bánt engemet)

A thought torments me with worry:
A bed-ridden expiry!
A slow wilting away like a flower,
Consumed by unseen worm in its bower;
To waste away just like a single candle,
In an abandoned room over the mantle.
Such death I have always abhorred –
From such a death do save me, Lord!
I rather be a tree that lighting strikes,
Or one the wind uproots and torn it dies,
a boulder on a cliff dislodged by quake
that thunders down, earth-shaking, to a dale…
When all enslaved people, tiring of yoke,
Long slumbering, at last one day awoke
with ruddy cheeks, and together tarry,
on their red flag just one slogan carry:
“World freedom!”
And in one voice, sharp and Stentorian,
The message from east to west rises on,
And tyranny with them fights the last fight –
There let me fall
One man for all –
In battle may pour the blood from my young heart,
May to my last words be joyful as I part,
May they be swallowed by battle din, shrill:
Trumpets and guns and the clanging of steel!
And over my corpse
The galloping horse
Charge straight ahead to the victory won,
Leave my body there to be trampled upon.
Let them there collect my scattered off bones
On burial day, and in slow, sad tones
The burial procession held for all
Carry them to a hero’s funeral.

Kamloops, April 18, 2008

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