On the Wall of a KZ Lager

By János Pilinszky Janos Pilinszky

Translated By Clive Wilmer and George Gömöri Read the translator's notes

Where you've fallen, you will stay.
In the whole universe this one
and only place is the sole place
which you have made your very own.

The country runs away from you.
House, mill, poplar—every thing   
is struggling with you here, as if
in nothingness mutating.

But now it's you who won't give up.
Did we fleece you? You've grown rich.
Did we blind you? You watch us still.
You bear witness without speech.

Source: Poetry (March 2008).

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This poem originally appeared in the March 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2008
 János  Pilinszky

Biography

János Pilinszky (1921 – 1981) served with the Hungarian army in WWII. Harmadnapon (On the Third Day, 1959) established him as a courageous witness to the horrors of mid-twentieth century Europe. Two selections of his work have appeared in English: Selected Poems, translated by Ted Hughes and János Csokits (Carcanet, 1976) — which was later expanded into The Desert of Love (Anvil, 1989)— and Crater, translated by Peter Jay . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, History & Politics

POET’S REGION Eastern Europe

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