Translated from the Hungarian & edited by
Thomas Ország-Land (February 2018)
he author of these poems, Miklós Radnóti (1907-1944), was perhaps the greatest poet of the Holocaust, a Catholic convert who fell victim to a mass murder of Jews perpetrated by the regular Hungarian Army under standard orders. The poems below, published in 1930 while he was still a student, were condemned by the courts for blasphemy and the poet barely escaped exclusion from all his country’s universities.
I am twenty-two years old. Thus
Christ too might have appeared in the autumn
at the same age when he
still had no beard, he was blond and maidens
dreamt of him nightly!
Just look at her hands! like dying
flowers in frost. Her hair cascading.
She’s resting, a graceful dove
on a pillow. She’s Mary!
. . . but you have known and loved
girls with such faces!
Thomas Ország-Land is a poet and award-winning foreign correspondent who writes for New English Review on Europe and the Middle East. His last book was Survivors: Hungarian Jewish Poets of the Holocaust (Smokestack, 2014) and his last E-chapbook, Reading for Rush Hour: A Pamphlet in Praise of Passion (Snakeskin, 2016), both in England. His work appears also in current issues of Acumen, Standpoint and The Transnational.
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