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ATTILA, Jozsef

At last

I have scrubbed boilers, I have cut seedlings,
On rotting straw mattresses I've found sleep;
Judges have sentenced me, fools have mocked me,
My glitter poured forth from cellars deep.
I've kissed a girl who sang even as
she was baking someone else's bread,
I was given clothes and I gave books
to peasants and to workers instead.
I was in love with a well-to-do girl
but her own class wrested her from me;
I ate but once every other day
and I got an ulcer finally.
I've felt that the world, too, was a turning
inflamed stomach and that slimy thing,
our dyspeptic love was our mind, while war
was nothing but bloody vomiting.
Since sourish silence has filled our mouth,
I kicked my heart that it might shout with rage.
How could my active mind content itself
with lulling songs composed for a wage.
They offered money for my great vengeance;
Priests have said: trust in the Lord, my son.
And I knew, he who returned empty-handed,
with axes and hoes and stones would come.
I have flashing eyes and the will to win,
and I must have the willingness, the means
to do justice and so to take sides
with these severest of memories.
But what concern are memories to me?
Rather, I lay my worthless pencil down
and start grinding the scythe's edge instead,
for time is ripening in our land
with a silent, threatening sound.

Translation : John Székely