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This poem is taken from PN Review 15, Volume 7 Number 1, September - October 1980.

Six Poems (translated by Jascha Kessler) Míklós Radnóti

translated from the Hungarian by Jascha Kessler

Note: PNR 4 included translations of four of Radnoti's poems by Clive Wilmer and George Gomori whose Forced March (Radnoti's selected poems, in English) was published by Carcanet in 1979.

GUARD AND DEFEND ME

The wind blowing at night through my dreams
and snowwhite sails flashing
slatting swelling and set for voyage far away.

I'm writing this slow poem here
like the emigrant starting his new life
and writing his poems from now on with a stick
in the shifting sands of far off Africa.

But from everywhere, from Africa too,
some ghastly crying can be heard,
the monstrous infant that sucks day and night
at the purpled tits of time, by whom it's nursed.

Of what worth's the word between two wars,
and what am I worth, a specialist
...


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