ATTILA JOZSEF,1926-At last

I have scrubbed boilers, I have cut seedlings,

On rotting straw mattresses I’ve found sleep;

Judges have sentenced me, fools have mocked me,

My glitter poured forth from cellars deep.

I’ve kissed a girl who sang even as

she was baking someone else’s bread,

I was given clothes and I gave books

to peasants and to workers instead.

I was in love with a well-to-do girl

but her own class wrested her from me;

I ate but once every other day

and I got an ulcer finally.

I’ve felt that the world, too, was a turning

inflamed stomach and that slimy thing,

our dyspeptic love was our mind, while war

was nothing but bloody vomiting.

Since sourish silence has filled our mouth,

I kicked my heart that it might shout with rage.

How could my active mind content itself

with lulling songs composed for a wage.

They offered money for my great vengeance;

Priests have said: trust in the Lord, my son.

And I knew, he who returned empty-handed,

with axes and hoes and stones would come.

I have flashing eyes and the will to win,

and I must have the willingness, the means

to do justice and so to take sides

with these severest of memories.

But what concern are memories to me?

Rather, I lay my worthless pencil down

and start grinding the scythe’s edge instead,

for time is ripening in our land

with a silent, threatening sound.

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