Quippe ubi fas versum atque nefas: tot bella per orbem, tam multae scelerum facies…
“Here, – where a committed sin is the honour itself, with rumbling wars all over the world – sins might take shape in many forms… “
I have not seen you for a long’, did the birds call you out?
I’ve been listening to the woods, being full of sounds and clatter, Spring must be coming!
It’s not spring yet, just the sky is playing, look at that puddle,
now, it mildly smiles… but if it’s woven by the nightly frost
it will snarl! This is April, never let yourself for the fool –
The little tulips are already frost-bitten, just look, over there.
Why are you so sad? Wouldn’t you like to have a rest next to me, on that rock?
I’m not even sad, I’ve got so used to this horrible world
that sometimes it doesn’t even hurt – it just disgusts me.
Indeed, I’ve heard that on the wild ridges of the Pyrenees,
White-hot cannons argue among the corpses frozen in blood,
that the bears and soldiers flee together from that terrible place,
that flocks of women, children and old folks run with their bundles
throwing themselves to the ground when the death starts to circle above them, and
that there are so many dead that no-one can clear them away.
…I think you knew Frederico. Tell me, did he escape?
He did not escape. Two years ago now that he was killed in Granada.
Garcia Lorca is dead! He is dead and no-one has told me!
News of the war can travel so fast – and, just like that,
how could a poet just disappear! Wasn’t he mourned by Europe?
Mourned? No-one has noticed. And we are lucky if the wind,
hovering through the pyre’s embers, remembers – at least – an odd, broken
line of a poem: that’s all remaining work to be left to a frustrated future.
He didn’t escape. He is dead. True, where could a poet run anyway?
Just as our dear Attila did not escape, he just nodded a no
to the rule of this world, then say, who mourns his caused death?…
And you, how do you live nowadays? Might any of your words leave an echo on the days?
In the gunfire’s roaring? Among mortified ruins, abandoned hamlets?
Still, I go on with my writing and live in this crazy world like
that oak-tree over there that knows it must be cut out, and although it bears
the white cross that marks it out for the woodcutter’s axe tomorrow,
it bears forth new leaves regardless while awaiting its fate.
You’re fortunate, for this place is calm and even wolves rarely trouble you,
you can forget even that the flock which you’re watching is not your belonging:
it must have been months since your master been seen around.
The blessings of heavens, – must go – the night will be old before I reach home.
The moth of the evening is fluttering, shedding its silvery wings.
Translated from Hungarian, Miklós Radnóti – Első Ecloga