Attila Jozsef: Consciousness



The dawn has unloosed the sky from the earth
and at its clear soft word
the beetles, the children
come tumbling out into the light of day;
no haze in the atmosphere,
the sparkling lightness floats everywhere!
During the night, like butterflies,
the leaves have settled on the trees.



Blue, red, yellow poly-daubed
pictures I saw in my dreams,
and I felt: this is the order of things,
not a floating dust-speck’s out of place.
Now gloom-like my dream spreads out to my limbs
and the iron world is the order.
By day a moon rises in me and when it’s night
outside – a sun shines here within.



I am thin, just bread I eat sometimes,
amongst these frivolous prattling souls
its for nothing that I seek something more sure
than the throw of the dice.
There’s no roast shoulder nuzzling at
my lips, or child at my heart.
For all its skill the cat can’t catch mice
outside and inside at the same time.



Like a pile of hewn timber
the world lies heaped up on itself,
one thing presses and squeezes and
interlocks with the other,
so each is determined.
Only what is not has a bush,
only what will be is a flower,
what is crumbles into fragments.



In the goods station yard
I flattened myself against the foot of the tree
like a slice of silence; grey weeds
reached up to my mouth, raw and queerly sweet.
Dead still I watched the guard, (what was he sensing?)
and, on the silent waggons,
his shadow which kept obstinately jumping
upon the lustrous dew-laden coal-lumps.



See, here inside is the suffering,
out there, sure enough, is the explanation.
Your wound is the world – it burns and rages
and you feel your soul, the fever.
You are a slave so long as your heart rebels –
you become free by making it your pleasure
not to build yourself the kind of house
in which the landlord settles down.



I looked up from under the evening
at the gear wheels of the skies –
from glistening threads of chance
the loom of the past was weaving law,
and again I looked up at the sky
from under the vapours of my dreams
and I saw that the fabric of the law
was always bursting apart somewhere.



The stillness was listening – the clock struck one.
You could rediscover your youth,
between dank cement walls
you can imagine a little freedom –
I thought. And, then, as I stand up
the stars and the Great Bear
glimmer up there
like bars above the silent cell.



I have heard the iron weep,
I have heard the rain laugh.
I have seen that the past is split
and only images can be forgotten;
and that I can do nothing but love,
bowed down under my loads –
why must I forge you into a weapon,
gold of self-awareness!



He has fully become a man
who has in his heart no mother, father,
who knows that he gets life
only as an extra to death
and, like something found, he will give it back
at any time, that’s why he keeps it safe,
who is not a god and not a priest
either to himself or anyone.



I have myself seen happiness,
soft it was, blond and three hundredweight.
Its curly smile was tottering
On the strict grass of the yard.
It settled into the soft warm puddle,
blinked, and gave a grunt at me –
to this day I see how hesitantly
the sunlight toyed amongst its downy hairs.


I live by the railway line. Many trains
go past here and, time and again,
I watch the lighted windows fly
through the fluttering fluff-darkness.
So through eternal night
rush illuminated days
and I stand in each cubicle of light,
I lean upon my elbows and am silent.

Translated by Michael Beevor


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