János Pilinszky: Grace
Bugs are slashing through the darkness
and the stars also cross the night.
We have time to sit around long
in the lamplight resting on the board.
Grace has been granted to us:
while the world stands still and keeps quiet,
eternity itself is alone in motion.
János Lackfi: The Least
I was feeling lonely,
and you called me for a video chat.
My food ran out;
you brought me some and left it by my door.
While a pandemic was on
I was ’vulnerable’
and you didn’t visit.
I was furious,
but to no avail; you were doing it for me.
My income dried up,
and you made an instant cash transfer.
I had no work,
and you gave me online jobs.
I had no medicines,
and you filled my prescriptions.
I was out of sorts
and you sang out on your balconies
with varying degrees of musicality
but with an endearing enthusiasm.
I wasn’t my usual self
and you sent me memes.
I became withdrawn
and you got me to read.
My ideas had dried up,
but seeing your nostalgic posts
I took the old albums down off the shelf,
put up a few photos,
then just took my memory on a trip
down the lane and out of the town.
A howling silence grew inside me,
but you recommended some music,
and I basked, then, in the most wonderful
I couldn’t go out,
but you dug out your old holiday snaps,
and I went travelling in my head.
Whatever you’ve done for the least of my brothers,
you have done the same for me.
Translated by Anna Bentley
Sándor Reményik: Into An Emtpy Church
When dusk settles
By habit I slip into an empty church-
A soul visiting God.
Somber faces of saints shine onto me.
Long forgotten the weddingfolk,
No Mass being said, no surpliced priests.
Two sanctuary lamps glow on the altar-
I am alone with my God.
The church is empty, my soul is full-
We understand each other, no words needed.
I stand here, facing Him-
No witnesses of our tryst.
I stand. I don’t kneel under the urging power of yearning.
Searching the great Will
I remain standing, obeying His will-
And when it releases me, I collapse.
Such boundless reverence fills me,
As though I gazed upon stars in the woods,
Where eternal, ancient silence celebrates-
And yet, I am only in a chapel.
Translated by ZsuZsa Simandy