Gabor Barabas

Poems by Miklos Radnoti translated by Gabor Barabas:




I kiss your hand, — like this,

like a shuffling peasant basking

in the sun, while in fields pregnant with passion

the raucous unhinged stalks of wheat burst into blossom!


And look! Where we just lay the stalks are bent,

a stern reminder of our love—and how

the world bows! And the distant tower bows

and grovels at your feet in the dust!


A sleepy afternoon has come: let us welcome it in silence!

I plant a kiss that blooms upon your fingers, 

the palm of your hand gives birth to shade!

And let us be thankful! with palms open like a supplicant's


and let us thank the sunlight where we stand,

twirling and disheveled, in fields animated

and gleaming with passion where

the raucous unhinged stalks of wheat burst into blossom!


October 8, 1929




Most már a kezedet csókolom, így

paraszt bánattal oly szép megállni

a napban, lelkes földeken csörren

ütődő szárba szökkenve a búza!


Nézd! ahol hevertünk eldőlt a szár,

szigorú táblán szerelmi címer, hogy

bókol a tájék! bókolva előtted

csúszik a porban a messze torony!


Álmos délután jön: csöndben köszöntsd!

csók virágzik ujjaid csúcsán és

tenyeredben megszületik az árnyék!

Te csak köszöntsd! szétnyitott tenyérrel


köszöntsd a napot, mert most még

feléfordúlva állunk és lelkes

földeken, csillanó földeken csörren

ütődö szárba szökkenve a búza!



From Psalms Of Devotion


You are a plowed field, and your panting

is like that of  the hired hand as you carry

the brute weight of the earth upon your back.

And sometimes your desire is a deafening bell

that calls to me from beneath the dark cathedrals

of the panting night.

And then you shower me with love,

like a wild chestnut shedding its leaves. And even now,

in the grief of our parting cleansed by the diaphanous dawn,

you are still the earth, and the flesh, and the blood

and everything and all, is but like child's play beside you.


July 12, 1928


Földszagú rét vagy, a lihegésed egyszerű

mint a szeretkező béresparaszté és a

földanya átkos erejét hordozza tested.

Néha csak vágyad harangja kongat

és misére hív a lélekző csöndben

ziháló sötétnek tornya alatt.

Szerelmed rámhúll kerengve, mint hulló

nagy vadgesztenyelevél. Most is.

A búnak áttetsző tiszta hajnalán

te vagy a föld, a test, a vér

és terajtad kívűl minden cask játék.



from Cartes Postales:




On the lurching train the lamp dies out

and the moon sticks to the trembling window;

a soldier sits, a blonde girl leaning on his chest,

she flickers, smiles, and then is lost in dreams.




A vonaton a lámpa haldokolt,

a lengő ablakokra néha rátapadt a hold,

szemközt katona  ült, szivén egy szőke lány

világitott. A lány mosolygott, könnyü álma volt.





The pond boils and its surface cracks

as roe gushes from the fattened fish;

slender girls watch motionless

as golden droplets swirl and fall about their feet.




Felforr a tó és tükre pattan,

kövér halakból dől az ikra,

karcsu lányok nézik mozdulatlan

arany csöppek hullnak lábaikra.





A young girl just ran by

with an apple in her hand.

It was a plump, red apple

and she bent over it.

The moon is so dim tonight

that it is but a faint breath in the sky.


August 7-September 7, 1937




Kislány futott el éppen,

almát tartott kezében.

Piros, nagy alma volt,

a kislány ráhajolt.

Lehellet még az égen,

Olyan halvány a hold.


Gabor Barabas' poems have recently appeared in California Quarterly, Iodine, Red Owl, Plainsongs,
and This Broken Shore. His animated poem, "The Spider," has won awards in film festivals in Berlin, Delhi, Chicago, and New Orleans.

The Hungarian poet Miklos Radnoti, executed during World War II, was one of Hungary's great Twentieth Century poets. He introduced modernism into what had been primarily a pastoral and folkloric poetic tradition.  Almost two years after his death, his body was exhumed from a mass grave; in the pocket of his trench coat, his wife and friends discovered the final ten poems he had written. Mr. Barabas has received permission from his widow, now 98, to translate his collected poems.  From that larger project, Mr. Barabas has selected two poems from his earliest period in which the pastoral influence is still present.  After the publication of his second book, "Song of Modern Shepherds" (1931), he was persecuted by the censors and only the intervention of his teacher and friend, Sandor Sik, a Catholic priest, saved him from imprisonment and expulsion from his university.  Three shorter poems, from a trip to Paris during his transitional middle period, reflect his exposure there to the modern currents of Western poetry.  None of these translated poems has been previously published. 



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