Hungarian Poems In my Own Translation

Attila József (1905-1937)

With a Pure Heart

No mother, no father,

No homeland, no God,

No cradle, no shroud,

No lover’s name to call out loud.

It’s three days since I last ate

A meal or a crust of bread,

The only thing I have to sell

Is my twenty years, my youth, myself.

If no one wants what I have to offer,

I can steal and rob to earn a dollar,

The Devil himself can claim my name,

With a pure heart I’ll kill and maim.

They’ll catch me and they’ll hang me high,

In holy ground my body will lie,

Poisoned grass will start to grow

On my beautiful heart in the earth below.


Radnóti Miklós (1909-1944)


I am twenty two years old. This

is how Christ must have looked in autumn

at the same age; he was fair-haired

and hadn’t yet grown a beard;

girls fantasised about him in their dreams.



I threw myself down beside him and his body rolled over

already taut like a string about to snap.

Shot in the nape of the neck. ‘That’s how you’ll end up too!’

I whispered to myself. ‘Just lie here quietly,

patience will blossom into death’.

Der springt noch auf,’ someone called out above.

My ear was caked with mud and drying blood.

Mező Feri (1951-2017)


This morning I broke a 

mug, I spilt some coffee 

 when trying to pour some from a

 jug, I stayed indoors all day, 

 far from the warmth of the sun,

feelings of guilt torment me, 

a plush teddy bear whimpers on my shelf,

I buy nothing, I eat nothing;

the stains spreading over my clothes

vouch for who I am: 

old man, how your hand trembles!

I ruined everything

long before.


Reggel eltörtem egy
bögrét, a kávét a kiöntő
mellé folyattam, ki se
mozdultam, ma
nem sütött rám a nap,
gyötör a bűntudat, a polcon
plüss mackó nyüszít,
nem veszek, nem eszek,
a ruhámon szaporodó
pecsétek hitelesítenek:
remeg a kezed, öreg;
elrontottam mindent,
már sokkal előbb.