ATTILA JOZSEF-Belated Lament,1935

My fever’s ever thirty-six degrees and still

mother, you’re not with me.

Like any loose, easy girl when called at will,

You have lain down by Death’s side readily.

From the gentle autumn landscape and many

kind women I try to piece you together,

But there’s no time left as the all-consuming

fierce fire grows hotter.

As I was returning home for the last time

the wars had just ended,

And in entangled and ruined Budapest

Many shops were left breadless and empty.

Crouching on train-roofs I brought you potatoes,

While the sack was filled with millet already;

Stubborn me, I had got a chicken for you,

But you were nowhere to be.

Your sweet breast and self you took away from me

and gave them to the worms.

My, how you consoled and chid your son, but see:

False and deceitful were your kind words.

As you blew on my soup, stirring it, you said:

“You’re growing big for me, eat, my precious, eat”,

But your empty lips taste oily dampness now –

How greatly you misled me!

If only I’d eaten you!.. You brought me your supper

but did I ask for it?

Why did you bend your back over the washing?

That now in a box you should straighten it?

See, I’d be glad if you would strike me once more,

Now I’d be happy for I’d return your blow;

You are worthless for you’re trying not to be,

You spoil it all, you shadow.

You’re a greater swindler than any woman

who deceives and betrays.

Stealthily you deserted your living faith

You bore out of your loves amid your wails.

You gipsy! what you have given, cajoling,

In the final hour you stole back the lot.

The child feels a quick impulse to swear; mother,

don’t you hear it? Tell me off.

Slowly light enters my mind and the legend

has vanished like a dream.

The child that clings to the love of his mother

now realizes how silly he’s been.

Deceit awaits him who’s born of a mother:

He’s either deceived or to deceive he’ll try.

If he struggles on, he’ll die of this but if

he gives in, of that he’ll die.



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