Árpád Tóth: The Lesson of the Moon (A Hold leckéje)

Look! there is a full moon now,
High up above the trees
Her blown up cheeks become round,
Teases you, causes grief.

And the worthless trickery
Dazzles and shines until
Your mind becomes again bright    
And without apathy.

A car collects you  - a blue
Carriage forged in magic -
And from the Earth it takes you,
That garage of pity.

You forget who you have been,
And  with vague dreamy smile   
You also leave years behind,
A distressing lifetime!

You glide thus in eternity,
Nearby there is nothing
But in happy airy silence
The unreality …

But then you wake up again
And with eyes wide open
You stare at the copper disk
Of the enormous Moon:

What an ugly, old clown!
Plays the happy dimwit
Before the tent of heaven
For myriad plus years.

His face is covered with paint,
But you can see beneath
Traces of deformed craters
Like pockmarks on gypsies.

Why is the resistance? Why?
Or no more important? 
No more questions from the  heart,
The one that has burned out?

From a robot - that’s his fate -
Creates magic and light,
Does not matter that inside
He’s  ice, ancient twilight.

To shine forever - dictates
Thus a secret power.
It will be revealed later:
Reward or not, is there?

… How dwarfed it seems by all this
Your dismal, little life!
And slowly you feel sorry
For the tears you had spilled.


Translated by: Maria Bencsath 


Tamás Jónás: The Price of Flight (A repülés ára)

Fear, the beautiful vixen sits down beside me and embraces me.   
She would gladly stay on my shoulder, she says, like a pair of black wings.
Her lips are heavy like pasta dough, her smoldering face is her Mars.
Like a stepladder, her legs are long, her hair is a thick weed in Fall.
What do you want in exchange, I ask. No cost for the first few seasons.  
But later on it will have a price: I must endure the smell of blood
that will freely ooze out of my wings and I will have several nights,
during that time a few blind, frail, sick girls of my dream will step out.
They will use my sculptured body with immense hunger until daylight    
but I will remember nothing, she promises me, when I wake up.
Now gliding on the strong wings I am in wild terror during the day.
I become a friend of heaven and the angels show respect to me.
But my body is fading weekly, the duvet of my face is rumpled.
The bed groans when I get into it. Every night I become crippled

Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Árpád Tóth: You Dropped the Sun (Elejtetted a napot)

I was thinking about you
In the golden afternoon
As the pink hue of the sun
Reflected through my closed eyes.

The bright light gently heated
My pallid and tired face
And I waited with eyes closed
For the customary journey,

The one when  - as a quiet boat
On a  mysterious sea -
My recliner’s off to sail,
On my fever’s flow it sways

Towards carefree, beautifully
Imaginative regions
Where some of the sorry dreams
Of my sad life made their home:

Everything that will not be,
Everything that never was -
I started the day like that,
With eyes closed, as if dead,

I was dreaming: about life.
And the sun turned towards me
As if it dropped pink embers
Onto my eyelashes

From that certain sacred light
That the eye there still perceived
On the holy Father’s breast,
And with constant thirst for it.

And it happened all at once,
Fervently, fully, suddenly
I thought about you, how far
You are, and how lost I am.

And my frightened eyes quickly
Opened: on the tip of the
Mountains where the reddening
Clouds were already grieving.

And a curious vision
With great force took hold of me.
I felt as if: your hands held
The sun up today for me.

That’s why it was so special,
More precious than any light,
And I only know it now
As the evening has arrived,

When your tired hands at last
Are ready to drop the sun,
So will also fall the songs
Softly silent in my heart.


Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Gábor Nagy (1972-): The Poem of Poet (Poéta verse)

Fool is one who keeps on writing
without joining an order,
keeps on being modest, doesn't beg
or plays a role: observes.

Will not become and artist,
not a real poet:
a scribbler, a starveling
only, it is clear

that he is useless,
parasitic bad lot.
Thence the prejudiced
coeval hidalgo.

If not ostentatious, then why?
On the tip of his pen
like some flying dust,  
another posterity hangs. 

Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Árpád Zemplényi (1865-1919): The Genius (A Zseni)

There is something divine in fasting,
Geniuses can then be - creative.
Such fasting often conveys the excuse:
Genius since he fastsfasts being a genius.

Genius since he fasts? Fasting feeds no mind.
Fasts being a genius? Punishment but why?
The wise man is quick and near to the plate.  
A  fool since he fasts; fasts being a fool.

Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Wendy Cope: Unalmasnak lenni (Being Boring 2003)

                             “Élj érdekes korban”. Kínai átok.

Ha kérdezel “Mi újság?”, nincs rá válaszom.
Hacsak az nem, hogy a kert lombos. 
Kicsit megfáztam, de már jobban vagyok.
Elégedett vagyok, ahogy mennek a dolgok.
Igen, ő ugyanaz, olyan, mint mindig,
Eszik és alszik meg horkol még mindig.
Munkámmal haladok. Ő meg az övével.  
Tudom, ez mind nagyon unalmas neked.  
Volt elég dráma viharos múltamban:
Könnyek és szenvedély - egy tanknyit elhasználtam.
Jó újság, ha nincs újság, csak tartson sokáig. 
Hálás vagyok, ha semmi különös nem történik.
Nem láttál nálam boldogabb káposztát,
Szárnyal zöldségesen víg hangulatom.
Ha izgalmat keresel, kerülj el messze.
Folytatni akarom unalmas életem.

Nem járok partikra. Hisz minek is vannak,   
Ha nem keresel új szeretőt magadnak?
Iszol és figyelsz, majd még egy kicsit iszol,
A másnap meg eltelikhogy kiheverd magad.  
Otthon lenni valakivel, ez volt minden vágyam,
És most, hogy biztos kikötőt találtam,
Csak egy célom van ebben az életben:
Továbbra is unalmasnak lenni. 

Fordította: Maria Bencsath


Gyula Juhász: Mája

I looked once again at the grey nothingness, 
The grey nothingness, father of everything,
Since then there are no proud sparkles in my eyes,
And in my heart no divine grace of hope lives!

O, you grey sea of this grey nothingness,
Where our world’s grim galley becomes dented,
O, you vitreous sky of our eyes,
Where planets that are burning are at their death!

Rigid universe and barren paradise
Go on and rock the boat of the sinking heart,
Rock the boat, the sail, the cannon and the horn:

Nowhere to stop here, too rugged is the shore,
Only the sea, salty, bitter and boring,
Only man for whom eddy is clemency!


Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Árpád Tóth: God's Broken Cello, I Keep My Silence (Isten törött csellója, hallgatok)

I am silence. Don't look for music here.
I resemble an instrument in this world
Like the one I saw, that violoncello
In the corner of a pleasing noble room.

The strings were broken. The neck was covered
By a veil of mourning, a silent crape.
Yet, it was not a sentimental object.
Dust covered it. Dust of reconciled years.

Such pain was written on it, that its silence
Itself is the saint, like that of the hermit,
Who, in the solitude oyears, - and on the
Threshold of his cell, forgot how to speak.

While in a reverie about his lost life,
No longer does he remember old sorrows:
Only as if some fine far away vapour
Sprinkled blood all over the thick nightfall,

And made it a prettier, heavenlier secret,
Nothing else matching it merely muteness.
Let the loudmouthed crowd then roar away,
God's broken cello, I keep my silence.   


Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Krisztina Tóth: Neighbourhood (Környék)

You cross a bridge and over there everybody is younger than you are:
the pedestrians, the byciclists, the trees, the statues.
It may be the time but you have not noticed it so far.
Somehow you haven't had any business in this neighbourhood.

You turn around but have a dizzy spell on the bridge.
Instead of a smooth mirror, this whirlpol of incertitude,
what to take to get home and whom you are going to find there
since you have left yourself behind a few years ago.

Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Árpád Tóth: Silent At Last (Csendes már...)

Silent, at last, is the forest,
Silent are the yellow gardens,
Wind hides amongst listless tree leaves,

Wind hides like a sad pariah,
Whistles through the dried out branches,
Cuddles near me licking my hand,

Farewell kerchief onward waving
Vagrant clouds and sullen sky,
Grief and sorrow sweeten the air,

Which is now like an aged wine
And the whole world in a shadow
Is a gloomy, giant good-bye. 


Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Árpád Tóth: The Tree (A fa)

Oh, look at that strange, tilted tree,
The way it bends across the creek,
Can you maybe not to love it,
Not to seek your partner in it?
No golden sun shines trough the old branches,
Silent are the birds, they all used to sing,
Has no more fruits, no flowers either,
Yet it stands, the wise man of sunset,
Like one who wonders on such evening,
Sinks in the secret of infinity
And gently leans with all of his body,
Wherever his soul pulls him without it... 

Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Árpád Tóth: In the Park (A parkban)

The wind is softly crying and weeping
Like small boys frightened from having gotten lost,
The moon is a slice of faded golden seam,
And having crossed already the mountain top
The pale dawn is quietly approaching.

I am wading in thin and splashy mud,
Afraid to look towards the far autumn plot,
My faded lips quietly start to cry
And I taste the sweet flavour of crushed, thick blood;
Flattering black flags enfold the tree arms.

Suddenly, I see feverish and sweet
Pictures with fading eyes, delayed desire,
I hear gentle and soft minuets while
On quiet, scuttling, silk covered feet
Life is floating away amongst sad trees…

Translated by Maria Bencsath


Árpád Tóth: Why? (Miért?)

In my window, evening graying,
I am sitting without moving,
Doing nothing, being idle,
Minutes flying, my time floating.

Watching dusty, stunted branches,
Saddened flowers, petals grieving,
Watching them in silence, coldly,
What’s their fate to me, the lonely!

My soul is bare, cold and empty
And the minutes are still racing,
Then, while watching the pale nightfall
I will have to leave my window…

With compassion Death speaks to me:
“Your heart trouble, leave it to me,
My frigid hands will caress it,
Put it to rest very gently.”

Then in terror I scream wildly:
I don’t want to become happy,
All I want is my life to live!
Why? what a foolish, sad secret!


Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Géza Képes: Landscape with Spirit (Lelkes táj)

The idle clouds are deep asleep,
the meadow-scent is dizzying;
Christ-face is the sun with bloody
tears, sudarium is the lake.

Poplar is trembling on the shore,
looking at blood on its torso,
staring, whining with tangled look:
is it its killer, is it, great god?

But evening has fallen: peace-kiss,
the lake enveloped in cool robe.
The silent landscape is listening,
the poplar stopped trembling. Dozed off.

Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Ágnes Nemes Nagy: Spruce (Fenyő)

Big, yellow sky. A ridge is lying
heavily on the smooth meadow.
Dark iron filings of immobile
grass cover the magnetic ground.

There is a larch, it is at loss.
Something is buzzing. It is cold.
Something is buzzing: along the vast
trunk of the pine post with tattered bark,
with scaly roots it is moving up
a paleolithic telegram.

Higher up a bird, an unknown bird
above in the sky - the bird is
without a face, it frowns -,
the light behind it is now dimming,
blind windows, closing eyelids, -
just the buzz, buzzing is the night,
and the black heart of rays of light
crumpled to coal by invisible,
black foliage, as it purrs up.

Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Gyula Juhász: Trees (Fák)

Quiet are the trees in the garden
standing still in the autumnal light.
Daydreaming maybe about summer,
one or two leaves are falling at times.

Stillness of life is filling this peace,
the tranquility, this large breed,
sacred web of eternal forces,
I, the fallen leaf, will be vanished.

I will then be part of dry leaves,
while above me the young trees stretched high 
are going to show with victory
their crown up to the eternal sky.

Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Zoltán Nadányi: You are Nowhere Anymore (Te már sehol se vagy)

No more do you give me your hand,
you don’t give me your lips,
no more do you leave your sweet scent
nowhere on my clothing.

Even in dreams, you are cold,
always you are ice cold.
Already left me in my dream
you're nowhere anymore.

Not even a tomb-stone or an urn
has been left behind.
You are nowhere anymore,
not on earth or down below.

I am just looking and guessing
where my dearest has gone.
For her just looking and looking,
awaken or in dream.

Because she is around, I know,
just fell behind, where, how?
I’ll be looking for as long as
I'm nowhere anymore.

Walking somewhere together on
the winding, scenic roads,
perhaps of an old summer, we
the old, the old couple.

Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Ferenc Juhász : Silver Poplars Tremble (Reszket az ezüstnyárfasor)

The silver poplars are trembling,
they would like to fly, glide

with wild geese around the moon
their feathers flickering.

The poplars are weeping and weeping,
their weak shoulders are shaking.
Spinsters with hair of forged silver
grieve thus their fate for lacking marriage.

Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Miklós Radnóti: Changing Landscape (Változó táj)

In the puddle steps the wind
whistles and runs outside,
suddenly turns around
and slams the gate behind.

The puddle flatly winks
and then the lazy trees
open up suddenly
their bird like tiny lips.

All around muddled noise,
even the leaves mumble,
small towers of dust are
being built in dust bowls.

The squirrel-brown monk stops
his walking on the road,
above a brown squirrel
jumps the branches across.

Then with great watchfulness
what moved before: stiffens,
the landscape carrying
the sky as a big hat.

When it moves again,
almost all is quiet,
the wind hid in the shrub
getting ready for rest.

Smiling is the meadow,
round and ready to laugh,
softly swaying from where
my lady comes along.

Seeing me, starts to run
towards me in the grass
in her hair floating by
golden rays the sun bites.

Getting clearer around
and becoming tranquil
the chased off light returns
embracing everything

and what used to carry
the sky as a big hat:
waving with the clouds is
the landscape, the hatless.

Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Gábor Devecsery: Exchange of Roles (Szerepcsere)

Honey-scent of linden
pouring through the window;
idyllic memories of
past breakfasts riddle
the presence of summer.
Enough’s left for winter:
honey on the table,
turn around the picture:
above - happy phantom -
linden-scent of honey
scents the present summer.

Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Mihály Babits: Fugitive Love (A szökevény szerelem)

Many years, many years:
our love is still that burns?

I think, this is not love,
the love we had is long gone.
Love set me on fire,
on fire then retired,
left me here,
left me here.

Like two beautiful trees
burning on deserted fields
their burning flames collide,
the two become one:
they are red,
they are red.

Two oil wells, not two trees,
collide with their burning tongues -
they are deep, they don’t burn out.
Love already has gone far,
is laughing,
is laughing.

Who needs love here anymore
my dearest of all?
I can only love you the way
as I am loving myself,
blazing and scorching, cruelly

and the fugitive love behind,
as I feel it, is laughing.

Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Antal Hidas: Loving You - I Am Alive (Míg szeretlek - élek)

As long as you love me
I will live, I won't die.
Guide me as Polaris,
my fear is not to die.

No time, no distance
can break or destroy.
Your ever growing love
dissolves all this horror.

Storms can drag me around,
winds can whirl me about:
and wanting it boldly
this dread I do carry.

I do love you more than
I ever loved before.
Listen to the growing
grass singing a swishing song:

spring will come, spring is here . . .
Life is marching along,
it’s burning in the spring . . .

Loving you - I am alive!

Translated by: Maria Bencsath

Gábor Garai: I Am With You (Veled vagyok)

Do you feel when you’re worried or sad
am with you, I talk to you;
as I also hear your sad sigh waft 
to me when I have my trouble!

I cannot ever live without you;
you see, if you are far or near 
- although your sweet charm is all around - 
your bitter joy embraces me. 

We who became one in pain, in the
forbidden zone (and in sin - would
the saints say!), will we find one fine day
our word of mutual grace?

Will we find it? We would search for it,
hungrily until judgement day!
Till this unlikely light shines on us 
the diamond-moon of our faith.

Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Jenő Dsida: Every Day Ends in the Evening (Minden nap esttel végződik)

Every day ends in the evening.
All the noise, all ends in silence.
Everything ends with something that's nothing
and suffering becomes a dead letter.

They close the windows here, there, everywhere,
dark shutter-eyes without any reason
embrace my face, pull it to their own.
Every day ends in the evening.

I'm looking for a gate with no angel,
looking for those still open eyes
that tell me: I understand you.
Yet, all the noise, all ends in silence.

They also lock the churches at this time of night,
God wraps himself into his spiraled,
heavy and dense many-pleated coat -
everything ends with something that's nothing.

Nobody may talk as late as that time of night,
the beggars huddle together under caved bushes,
the crickets are chirping. It's evening.
And suffering becomes a wordless poem.

Translated by: Maria Bencsath


Mihály Váci: At the End (Végül)

Nothing matters at the end, nothing at all but

to be loved!

Ah! To want someone as much as to even endure 
not to be loved!
Oh, those escapes, then to hang on! The only desire       
is to be loved!

Afraid to be alone. An embrace! And you will endure
not to be loved.
Mellowed from loneliness, and the only wish at the end is 
not to be scorned.
To experience illness, disasters and silvery Christmas Eve
without anyone, alone?
To realize the passing time, what is now, what is 
still going to be, alone?!

Ah, no! Nothing matters at the end, nothing at all

- not even to be loved.

Oh, at the end, he only cries, wants to still love someone,

wants to still love someone.
To have someone who would let you: - think about you 
One or two nights. 

Translated by: Maria Bencsath