Van Gogh's Prayer

By János Pilinszky Janos Pilinszky

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

A battle lost in the cornfields
and in the sky a victory.
Birds, the sun and birds again.
By night, what will be left of me?

By night, only a row of lamps,
a wall of yellow clay that shines,
and down the garden, through the trees,
like candles in a row, the panes;

there I dwelt once and dwell no longer—
I can't live where I once lived, though
the roof there used to cover me.
Lord, you covered me long ago.

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 Living, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION Eastern Europe

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