Happy, Heartbroken Song
I’ve got some bread, I’ve got some wine,
I’ve got a child, a lovely wife.
Then why should I despond and pine?
I do not need to starve or strive.
I’ve got an orchard, as I pass,
The rustling branches slowly sway,
Inside, the pantry guards its mass
Of nuts, maturing day by day.
I’ve got good blankets, soft and plain,
A telephone, some hand luggage,
I do not have to ask in vain
For favours, I’ve got patronage,
No more the one who long ago
In love with grief, had tears to shed,
I sometimes raise my hat although
I’m often greeted well ahead.
I’ve got bright white electric lights,
A cigarette case, pure silver,
My pen or pencil nimbly glides,
Here’s my smoking pipe to savour.
In baths, my weary limbs can rest,
To soothe my nerves, there is warm tea,
While I stroll around Budapest,
Some people now remember me.
From doleful songs that I have sung
Many an eye turns watery,
My nation hails me as the young
And gifted bard of Hungary.
But in the dead of night I halt,
I freeze and fret and faintly seek
A treasure in a secret vault,
A treasure so old, so unique,
Like a sick man awakening
From fever dreams, dazed and tired,
I stand there, groping, wavering,
Wondering what I once desired.
I could not find what I wanted,
The treasure for which I perished,
My place in the world is granted,
My heavenly home has vanished.
Look here, my son
Look here, my son, I’m giving you everything,
take it, it’s yours forever, keep it all.
Here’s winter and summer, when boughs gently swing,
I’m also giving you honey and gall.
Look, here is the bitter and here is the sweet,
here is the pitch black and here is the white,
here’s calm and fever so that you burn with heat,
here’s wholesome bread and poison full of spite.
Here’s milk, but also blood, a sight horrendous,
I give you arms to wrestle and embrace,
battles to fight against the odds, regardless,
keep the sword beside the rose, just in case.
There’s also some misplaced, bent or broken stuff,
there’s some cheerful sunshine and some laughter,
some pluck to besiege a fortress, just enough,
and a deep, low sigh that follows after.
You inherit a strange, ambivalent hoard,
inconsistent things, gathered in a heap,
I’m only human, it’s all I could afford,
neither reach for the sky, nor delve too deep.
I’m passing these to you, all I had to give.
I stand here, a beggar, holding my breath.
And now, in my right hand, there’s the will to live,
and in my left hand, I am clasping death.