Saturday, 5 February 2011

Setting off... Leeds, as per last post. Sky steely, the wind still beating away at everything in sight. More trains, more reading. Here is the end part of Gylua Illyés's One Sentence on Tyranny (1950). My translation, appropriate to the day:

..his is the truth, the way
so each succeeding day
is his, each move you make
you do it for his sake;

like water, you both follow
the course set and the hollow
ring is closed; that phiz
you see in the mirror is his

escape is doomed to failure,
you're both prisoner and gaoler;
he has soaked, corroded in,
he's deep beneath your skin

in your kidney, in your fag,
he's in your every rag,
you think: his agile patter
rules both mind and matter

you look, but what you see
is his, illusory,
one match is all it takes
and fire consumes the brake

you having failed to snuff
the head as it broke off;
his watchfulness extends
to factories, fields and friends

and you no longer know or feel
what it is to live, eat meat or bread
to desire or love or spread
your arms wide in appeal;

it is the chain slaves wear
that they themselves prepare;
you eat but it's tyranny
grows fat, his are your progeny

in tyranny's domain
you are the link in the chain,
you stink of him through and through,
the tyranny IS you;

like moles in sunlight we crawl
in pitch darkness, sprawl
and fidget in the closet
as if it were a desert,

because where tyranny obtains
everything is vain,
the song itself though fine
is false in every line,

for he stands over you
at your grave, and tells you who
you were, your every molecule
his to dispose and rule.

'He' in this case is Mátyás Rákosi, Hungary's sub-Stalin of the time.


Jane Dobson said...

Sorry I'll be missing the reading. The wind has dropped here in Leeds and just now it's quite sunny!

George S said...

It went very well, Jane. Very full passionate audience.

boros1124 said...

Gyula Illyes was very versatile. In perhaps the most famous Hungarian folk tales. You do not want to introduce the people? There are already books in English. ("Az égig érő fa")

George S said...

I am not sure what you mean, boros, by 'You do not want to introduce the people?' Do you mean, 'Don't you feel like introducing more of his work to the readers of your blog?' I don't have very much of his work in English translation, except a few poems in anthologies and A puszták népe (The People of the Puszta). But maybe that is the people you meant?