János Pilinszky: Midnight Bath (Éjféli fürdés)

The lake is clear today, alive,
glaring like the light of a knife
breathing by waves, like a mirror
being broken by my arm strokes
in a slow fight. The profoundly
disturbed element is biting
back with anxious, savage teeth.
Defeated, lying idly
and eavesdropping. Only the stars
twinkle like fish in the water
of abandoned skies, locked in,
like swimming birds, meditating.

I am looking at them, their flight
in the merciless and deaf sky,
I, the orphaned monster, being
crushed by armor, by scarred apathy,
who asks for or expects nothing,
just stares endlessly and softly;
slippery, thick scales cover all
my heart, where deep inside nestle
good-sweet revulsion, resistant,
treacherous spears that the water,
the water and the slow deepness
have hammered in me unnoticed.

For the reedy meadow is waiving
down below, the clams are happy
underneath, thick, light-ripened
silence fills their heart with quiver.
And as if it heard a calling,
the night has begun falling,
seaweed carries me or the stars,
I don’t even know, where am I?
At an ancient celebration
where sky, water, and I are the
same and some timeless weeping is
being heard flooding everything!
Translated by: Maria Bencsath