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PETŐFI, Sandor

Freedom and love

Freedom and love my creed!

These are the two I need.

For love I'll freely sacrifice

My earthly spell,

For freedom, I will sacrifice

My love as well.

The Sea is rising up

The sea is rising up,

The sea of people:

The waves high as a tower

Threaten the earth with power

Of its upheaval.

Do you see this dance?

Do you hear this tune?

This is how people revel

While they rise and rebel,

You will learn it soon.

The sea shakes and roars,

The ships are tossed around,

Masts broke and fell,

Sinking down to hell,

All the sails torn down.

Torrent, unleash your rage,

Release all your fume,

Show your vast deluge,

How fierce it is and huge,

Hurl to the sky your spume;

Use it as a lesson

To the basic rules:

Though on top is the boatman,

and down below the water,

Still, the water rules!

National Song

On your feet now, Hungary calls you!

Now is the moment, nothing stalls you,

Shall we be slaves or men set free

That is the question, answer me!

By all the gods of Hungary

We hereby swear,

That we the yoke of slavery

No more shall wear.

Slaves we have been to this hour,

Our forefathers who fell from power

Fell free and lived as free men will,

On land that was their own to till,

By all the gods of Hungary

We hereby swear,

That we the yoke of slavery

No more shall wear.

Whoever now his life begrudges

Deserves his death with thieves and drudges,

For setting his own worthless hide

Above his country’s need and pride.

By all the gods of Hungary

We hereby swear,

That we the yoke of slavery

No more shall wear.

The sword shines brighter than the fetters

It is the finery of our betters,

Of slaves and fetters we grow bored.

Leap to my side, ancestral sword.

By all the gods of Hungary

We hereby swear,

That we the yoke of slavery

No more shall wear.

Magyars, once more our name and story

Shall match our ancestors’ in glory

The centuries of shame and hurt

Can now be washed away like dirt.

By all the gods of Hungary

We hereby swear,

That we the yoke of slavery

No more shall wear.

And wheresoever we may perish

Grandchildren those graves shall cherish

Singing our praises in their prayers

To thank us that our names are theirs.

By all the gods of Hungary

We hereby swear,

That we the yoke of slavery

No more shall wear.

What shall I call you?

What shall I call you,

in that twilight reverie

when my eyes look with wonder

into the: beauty of your eyes like

the evening star, as if for the first time ...

that star

packed with rays

of love streaming

and running into the sea of my soul-

what shall I call you?

What shall I call you,

when I am touched

by the glance you let fly,

that gentle dove

with every feather

an olive branch-

its feel is so good,

softer than silk or

a cradle pillow!-

what shall I call you?

What shall I call you,

when your voice rings out,

those sounds (if they could hear them)

that would make the dried-up trees

of winter put out leaves,

imagining .

their tardy redeemer

spring had come

with a nightingale singing-

what shall I call you?

What shall I call you,

when my lips receive

the flaming ruby of yours,

and our souls fuse in the fire of the kiss

like night and day in dawn,

and I can no longer see the world,

no longer. see time,

and I drown in mysterious

transports of eternity-

what shall I call you?

What shall I call you,.

mother of my happiness,

magic daughter

of a heaven-scaling imagination,

brilliant reality surpassing

my eagerest hopes,

single treasure of my soul

yet still worth more than a whole world,

my dear young lovely wife,

what shall I call you?

The song of the wolves

Loud the storm is howling

Under a thundery sky.

The twin sons of winter,

Snow and rain, sleet by.

It is a barren plainland

We chose for abiding.

Not a bush grows there

For shelter or hiding.

Hunger gnaws the belly,

Cold gnaws the bone,

Two torturers who will not

Leave us alone.

And there, the third torturer,

Guns loaded with lead:

On the white, white snow

Our blood drips red.

Freezing and starving

And peppered with shot.

Yes, our lot is misery …

But Freedom is our lot!

I Dream of Gory Days

I dream of dread and gory days,

Which come, this world to chaos casting,

While o'er its ruined works and ways,

The new world rises everlasting.

Could I but hear, could I but hear

The trumpet's blare, to carnage calling!

I scarce can wait till on my ear

The summons sounds, to some appalling.

Then to the saddle quick I spring,

My mettled steed with joy bestriding,

And haste to join the noble ring

Of heroes, who to fight are riding.

And should a spear-thrust pierce my breast,

There will be one - a fair thought this is -

By whom my wound will then be dressed,

My pain assuaged by balmy kisses.

If taken captive I should be,

This one, my dungeon's gloom adorning,

Will surely come to visit me

In radiance like the star of morning.

And should I die, and should I die

On scaffold, or mid cannons'rattle,

This one with tears will then be nigh

To wash away the blood of battle.

O, Judge me not

O, judge me not, fair maid, I pray;

Not from our first and sole salute;

Not always is my tongue, as then,

So ill-behaved, so dumb and mute.

Oft floweth from my lips a stream

Of cheerful speech, and often floats

Humor or jesting o'er its waves,

Like merry folks in pleasure-boats.

But when I first saw thee, I tried

Some word to say, and tried in vain;

Before a storm breaks out all round

A graveyard quietude will reign.

A storm came up here in my breast;

Speechless I stood, charmed by a spell:

The storm broke and 'mid thunderings

The lightnings of my wild love fell.

How the tornado rends, destroys!

But I shall suffer patiently.

For, when I once thy love shall gain,

The rainbow of my soul I'll see.

The Thought Torments Me

When every nation wearing chains

Shall rise and seek the battle-plains,

With flushing face shall wave in fight

Their banners, blazoned in the light:

“For liberty!” Their cry shall be;

Their cry from east to west,

Till tyrants be depressed.

There shall I gladly yield

My life upon the field;

There shall my heart’s last blood flow out,

And I my latest cry shall shout.

I'll Be a Tree

I'll be a tree, if you are its flower,

Or a flower, if you are the dew-

I'll be the dew, if you are the sunbeam,

Only to be united with you.

My lovely girl, if you are the Heaven,

I shall be a star above on high;

My darling, if you are hell-fire,

To unite us, damned I shall die.

Translation: E.F. KUNZ

At the End of September

The garden flowers still blossom in the vale,

Before our house the poplars still are green;

But soon the mighty winter will prevail;

Snow is already in the mountains seen.

The summer sun’s benign and warming ray

Still moves my youthful heart, now in its spring;

But lo! my hair shows signs of turning gray,

The wintry days thereto their color bring.

This life is short; too early fades the rose;

To sit here on my knee, my darling, come!

Wilt thou, who now dost on my breast repose,

Not kneel, perhaps, to morrow o’er my tomb?

O, tell me, if before thee I should die,

Wilt thou with broken heart weep o’er my bier?

Or will some youth efface my memory

And with his love dry up thy mournful tear?

If thou dost lay aside the widow’s vail,

Pray hang it o’er my tomb. At midnight I

Shall rise, and, coming forth from death’s dark vale,

Take it with me to where forgot I lie.

And wipe with it my ceaseless flowing tears,

Flowing for thee, who hast forgotten me;

And bind my bleeding heart which ever bears

Even then and there, the truest love for thee.

My Wife and My Sword

Upon the roof a dove,

A star within the sky,

Upon my knees my love,

For whom I live and die;

In raptures I embrace

And swing her on my knees,

Just as the dewdrop sways

Upon the leaf of trees.

But why, you’ll surely ask,

Kiss not her pretty face?

It is an easy task

To kiss while we embrace!

Many a burning kiss

I press upon her lip,

For such a heavenly bliss

I cannot now let slip.

And thus we pass our day,

I and my pretty wife,

Beyond all rare gem’s ray

Is our gay wedded life.

A friend, my sword, it seems,

Does not like this at all,

He looks with angry gleams

Upon me from the wall.

Don’t look on me, good sword,

With eyes so cross and cold,

There should be no discord

Between us, friends of old.

To women leave such things,

As green-eyed jealousy:

To men but shame it brings,

And you a man must be!

But then, if you would pause

To think who is my love,

You’d see you have no cause

At all me to reprove.

She is the sweetest maid,

She is so good and true;

Like her God only made,

I know, but very few.

If thee, good sword, again

Shall need our native land,

To seek the battle-plain

Will be my wife’s command.

She will insist that I

Go forth, my sword, with thee,

To fight, if need to die,

For precious liberty!

The Apostle

The town is dark, night lies upon it,

the moon roams over other regions

and the stars have closed

their golden eyes.

The world is black

as bought-off conscience.

One single, tiny light

glimmers above

faintly, faltering

like the eye of a languid dreamer,

like a last hope.

It is the pale light of a garret.

Who keeps vigil by the light of the lamp?

Who keeps vigil there above?

Two sisters: virtue and misery.

Great, great is the misery there,

it hardly has room in the tiny chamber.

The garret is small, like a swallow’s nest,

and not more ornate than the nest of swallows.

Dreary and bare are the four walls,

or they would be bare

had not mould painted on them flowers,

had not rain,

trickling down through the roof,

striped them moodily …

The heavy rain streak

reaches down

like a bell-rope

in a mansion of the rich.

The air is dense

with sighs and the smell of mould.

The hounds of the mighty lords,

bred in better quarters,

would waste away in such surroundings.

Pine bedstead, pine table,

which would not sell at a rag-fair,

a sack of straw at the foot of the bed,

a few straw chairs by the table,

a worm-eaten chest at the head of the bed,

these are the room’s furnishings.

Who are the dwellers here?

Shadow and light struggle

in the tired blinking of the lamp …

the figures, like dream images, are faded,

and loom vaguely in the dimness.

Does the feeble light deceive the eye?

Or, are the dwellers here

all really so pale,

such ghostly apparitions?

Near the bedstead, on the chest,

the mother sits with her child.

With hoarse moans the infant sucks, sucks

at its mother’s shrivelled breast,

and it sucks in vain.

The woman sits brooding,

and her thoughts must be sorrowful

for, like snow melting from the eaves,

her tears cascade down

upon the cheeks of the little one …

Or, perhaps, unwittingly,

merely out of habit,

the tears gush from her eyes,

like a brook from the rocks?

Her older child,

thank God, sleeps quietly.

Or does he only seem to be sleeping?

He lies on his bed near the wall,

covered by a coarse blanket;

the straw shows from under it.

Sleep, little man, sleep,

dream bread into your wasted hand,

and your dream will be kingly.

A young man, the father,

sits darkly brooding at the table …

Is it the gloom oozing from his brow,

that saturates the garret?

‘Tis a heavy tome, this brow,

the woes of the world, all are inscribed upon it:

this brow is an engraving,

the hunger and torment of a million lives

are etched into it.

But below the sombre brow,

two smouldering eyes flicker

like two vagrant comets

which fear no one

but are feared by all.

His gaze

soars always farther, always higher,

until it is lost up there in the infinite,

like an eagle among the clouds.