Csoóri Sándor, a Hungarian poet, essayist, and politician, began writing poems in 1993 to criticize the Rakosi era, a period of dictatorship led by Hungarian communist Matyas Rakosi. Because of the revolutionary nature of his writings, Sándor was under strict government surveillance and for a long time, did not receive any awards for the outstanding bodies of work he published. Several of his poems were translated by Len Roberts and they appeared in the Dodge in 1990 under our “Poets as Translators” category. This one, in particular, really spoke to me and I hope it does to you too. From Artful Dodge 18/19, “Late Winter Morning” by Csoóri Sándor.
Late Winter Morning
At night, the city grows empty.
The snow falls without witness, alone.
Everyone stares at the unknown
in the tv screen’s white ash.
Music plays. Brakes squeak. A street lamp draws aside,
stares like a wolf’s eye
into a bushy, stiff face.
Nobody asks themselves anymore
whether they’re still alive; like the squeaking of brakes,
only the deaths of others haunt in the nightmarish
only the blood which can be sponged up with powdered sugar,
and the legs, leaving, seen only to the knee.
I see a snow-covered bullet fly,
taking its time, toward my forehead;
it flies in slow motion, like in the cartoons, so I still
The entire night’s before me,
every height of the lace-making sky,
the abandoned street snow, which wants to see
my footprints today, and tomorrow.
(Written by Csoóri Sándor. Translated from the Hungarian by Len Roberts and L. Vertes.)
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