18 July 2011

Erdélyi töredék - Kovács András Ferenc

Transylvanian fragment

As on the walls of Transylvanian churches
Fresco fragments, tattered-shattered paintings,
Now long forgotten even by the Lord,
No longer tended by the nimble sunbeams -
Of such will we be: invisible,
Lying hidden in time’s corroding lime
Not even God knowing if we still exist,
Or how, why, under how many blind strata
Our callused faces lie, hoping for the heroic
Resurrection of wrinkles in a tear-dance or smile,
Should it subside without too much damage -
We’ll be like so many threadbare legends,
Salvaged pagans, meek martyrs and saints,
And hells, heavens, doomsday judgements,
Calvaries suffered and then hushed up,
And remnants of the images of Christ -
All these we’ll be, details merely, and crushed:
Not infant babes, Eastern sages or Marys,
But broken debris, misfortune’s odds and ends:
Not lost battles, but dark savage hoofs,
Retreating heels, flags, wounds and crucifixes -
All these we’ll be: hands raised for blessing,
Sweeping swords through the cool empty air,
Truncated tribes, nations, bodies and limbs,
And the wings of a hatchet or holy ghost
Shimmer above: eyes gouged, torn creases,
Fabrics and skin, ownerless aureoles,
A tossed up pile of haphazard bedlam -
These we’ll all be: crumbling artworks
Yet worthy exhibits within the confusion -
Who will explain our missing pieces,
Who will restore them to coloured wholeness,
Who will one day recognise in us
The signature of an unknown master?

(Translated by Dornacher, Kinga; Humphreys, Stephen)

This magnificent poem was sent to me by my friend and muse Saszet Agnes. It appears on a site called Babelmatrix, a site dedicated to bringing the literature of the Visegrad nations (Hungary, Poland and the Czech and Slovak republics) in translation to a wider audience.

It is a site well worth visiting if you have a love of literature.


Sean Jeating said...

A bit to much of God, Christ and hol<y ghost, for my taste.

Not bad, though.
And thanks for the link(s), Jams.

Sean Jeating said...

... too much, even. :)

jams o donnell said...

Babl mtrix is an excellent resource Sean!