Saturday, 4 February 2012

István Csurka 1934-2012


There will be obituaries of István Csurka leader of MIÉP (Hungarian Justice and Health Party) and of the first wave of the far right after 1989, though he claimed to be of neither the left or the right. There's a link to a summing up of his life here.

And this happens to be the last Hungarian poem I translated some six weeks ago for what was the independent Hungarian Quarterly (now in the hands of government supporters). It's by the important contemporary poet, Zsuzsa Takács. Csurka is the subject.


A hat

How perfect it is, this hat,
hung on the copper hook next to my own.
It’s green but of a rather subtle shade,
the ribbon black, threaded through with gold.
How many terrible thoughts have brewed beneath it,
what thoughts have dashed themselves to death within it.
Surely it has passed from father to son.
It disturbs me like some kind of family heirloom.
It’s rather tight but has been brushed to a shine.
Just looking at it the blood drains from my face.
Its owner is a swollen-faced fat man
who will eventually come to claim it,
and when he does I won’t look, let him not see me.
I’d like him to put it on as he was leaving,
but I’m sure he’ll stand there and take a look around,
and no one will fail to rise in honour of him.
I wish I could forget that I have met him
or that I might have to meet him again.
If possible let him have no family,
nor dog that he could put in a sack and beat.
If he’s a judge, let me not come before him.
If he is a torturer, let his first blow be fatal.



5 comments:

Gwil W said...

Can we judge a man by his headgear? Interesting topic.

Interesting too how and why ministries are combined: e.g. Ministry of Sport and Defence, Ministry of Art and Education, and this Hungarian case the name of a party.

Who chooses what goes with what? And on what basis? The men in the hats?

In Austria a storm in a ball gown.

How dare the far-right have their annual ball on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz even if they have have had it on the last Friday of January for the last 42 years?

How dare their leader compare the demonstration outside with "crystal night" within the hearing of an agent provocateur who just happened to be an undercover journalist?

Why did the President award Austria's highest honour for political service to the far right leader?

Why did the President cancel the award of the same honour the day after the ball?

It is almost like a stage show, a media circus, a Thomas Bernhard piece of macabre tragi-comedy theatre.

Anonymous said...

Every day there has been bad news of this sort. I fear worse is yet to come. RIP Hungarian Quarterly.

Mr. Philoctetes Digressius said...

Lenin's shoes, Stalin's little scissors for trimming the mustache, Bush Jr.'s finger nail clippers, Putin's tie . . .

George S said...

A nice little museum, PD. Yes, it is a case of creeping bad news, Anon.

Not sure which way that's swinging, Gwilym. Do you mean Austria is coming under Jewish pressure?

Gwil W said...

Austria has very strict rules on what you can say and do. If you raised your outstretched arm above the level of your nose you might well live to regret it.

Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis often end up behind bars here.

The authorities access all forms of communication without even a judge's warrant! And they often do.

You might remember the British alternative historian David Irving ended up in the clink here for a couple of years.

I think this strict Austrian reaction has more to do with a self-imposed sense of guilt and a fear for the future than any Jewish pressure per se. But of course there is a lobby - and what goes on behind closed doors no one can say.

If someone had gone to the the Corporation Ball wearing Prince Harry's infamous armband he'd have certainly got 2 or 3 in years jail in Vienna. No messing.

So to answer your question, I think it swings a little both ways.