01 August 2006

Miklós Radnóti

A couple of months ago, Camille Martin gave me a wonderful, sad, and intriguing gift. A collection of poems by the Hungarian poet Miklós Radnóti. The poet died in 1944, at age 35, "executed by the Fascists following a forced march from the labor camp where he had been interned." Two years later, his wife found his body in a mass grave, and in his trenchcoat pocket there was a notebook of poems he had written during his years in the labour camps.

This book that I have is called Clouded Sky, and much of it comes from that notebook. It's a raw and difficult read, but there is so much beauty, thought, and freshness in the writing. There's brilliance. (This translation by Polgar, Berg, and Marks is published by The Sheep Meadow Press.)

It's night as I write this, so here's a poem called


The heart sleeps, and fear sleeps in the heart.
The fly sleeps near the cobweb on the wall.
It is quiet in the house,
the wakeful mouse is quiet,
the garden sleeps, the branch,
the woodpecker in the tree,
the bee in the hive, the chafer in the rose.
Summer sleeps in the spinning grains of wheat,
fire sleeps in the moon.
A cold medal hangs in the sky.
Autumn wakes. It steals through the night.

(June 1, 1942)

Radnóti was born Jewish, but converted to Roman Catholicism. Another great poet, Max Jacob, a Frenchman, followed the same pattern. The same year Radnóti died, Jacob was arrested by the Gestapo and died while in a holding cell on the way to a German concentration camp.

Over and out.


At August 02, 2006 1:15 am , Blogger Linda Crosfield said...

It never ceases to humble me, how poets manage to write, up to the last putting of pencil to paper. And how they still find beauty in the now.


At August 03, 2006 2:37 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

holy moley woman man shit.
that's one of the most heavy n buddhaful
comments ever
thanks from ever poet that ever

At January 03, 2009 9:21 am , Blogger Tamás said...

Hi, My name is Tamás Lepenye. I'm Hungarian, and Radnóti is one of my favorite poets.

I would like to show a song, composed and performed by group "Kaláka". The lyrics is the hungarian version of Radnóti's "Night". Here it is:


Listen to the rythm of the poem. It is wonderful.

The English translation is good, however, there is an alliteration in last line of the poem and, unfortunately, it wan not interpreted in the English version. Listen the Hungarian version and enjoy the harmony of the language.


Tamás ( my address is 'lepenyet' and followed by hotmail and dot and com)


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