ATTILA JOZSEF, Ars poetica-1937

I am a poet – what do I care

for the art of poetry as such?

Once risen up in the sky, the star

of the night river’s not worth much.

I’ve done with the milk of story books;

time’s slow seeping will never stop.

I quaff great draughts of reality,

neat world with foaming sky on top.

Pure and sweet is the source – bathe in it!

Calm and tremulousness embrace

each other; from the foam wise chatter

rises with elegance and grace.

Other poets – what concern of mine?

Wallowing in fake imagery

belly – high and fired with bogus wine

let them ape out their ecstasy.

I step past the revels of today

to understanding and beyond.

With a free mind I shall never play

the vile role of the servile fool.

Be free to eat, drink, make love and sleep!

Weigh yourself with the universe!

I shan’t hiss my inward curse to creep

and serve the base bone-crushing powers.

The bargain’s off – let me be happy!

Or else all men will insult me;

growing spots of red will mark me out,

fever will suck my fluids dry.

I’ll not hold my disputatious tongue.

I cry to knowledge and to truth.

The century, watching me, approves;

the peasant thinks of me, and ploughs.

The worker’s body feels my presence

between two of his stiff movements;

for me the shabby youth is waiting

by the cinema at evening.

Where scheming villains are encamped to

attack my poems’ battle-lines,

regiments of brotherly tanks go

out and rumble abroad the rhymes.

I say that man is not grown-up yet

but, fancying he is, runs wild.

May his parents, love and intellect

watch over their unruly child.

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