Ibn Amar Al-Andalusia

by György Faludy (1910-2006)
Translated from the Hungarian and edited by Thomas Ország-Land
(May 2012)

A hundred libraries and parks surrounded
the university where mosques and fountains
and jasmine, myrrh and passion's honey scent, and
night revellers mingled with the olive trees.
His sword was fine, his charger black as ravens.
The Grand Vizier was quoted with devotion
by all Seville. He grew a little vain, and
thus came to write his lyrics in this fashion:
Amar am I – my poetry's reputation
is carried by the winds and celebrated
beyond the deserts' dust, beyond the oceans' spray.
None but a fool knows not my name and station.
I am a golden lizard venerated
in golden sunshine. Whispering lovers say
my rhymes: the women melt through my creation.
My verses will go on, disseminated –
still, even after I have passed away.

And he was cheerful, happier than I
for time had not yet marred the fading Mosques
although the walls began to shed their plaster.
He did not grasp that cities can decline
and could not guess that one day soon the fountains
would wither short of water, dry and gaping.
He failed to mark the weeds along the roads,
the rise of rubbish shrouding his horizon –
and to foresee the burning of the books,
the slaughter of the lovers of his rhymes –
and to perceive that neither rhymes nor gold
nor thought nor deed nor craft nor knife nor rage
nor rational conviction can support
a culture when it crumbles from decay.

THOMAS ORSZÁG-LAND is a poet and award-winning foreign correspondent who writes from London and his native Budapest. His next book will be The Survivors: Holocaust Poetry for Our Time (Smokestack/England, in 2014).

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