Friday Night Poetry: A Communist Revolts
The poem below was translated by Edwin Morgan. I only offer the first four stanzas. The rest can be found in Modern Hungarian Poetry, edited by Miklos Vajda. Many libraries still carry copies.
Poem By an Unknown Poet from the Mid-Twentieth Century
They ranged themselves in facing lines
—switches would soon be thrust in their hands—
and we were braced to run the gauntlet
down through that pure and heartless band.
It is to induce salvation in us
that ethics swishes from both sides;
and if not by fear and humiliation,
we're bent by chronic belly-gripes.
Endless vigilance, the very virtues
thumped into my long-hunted spine
cheated me of my power to act,
that many-splendored only-mine.
Between four-dimensional hell and
two-dimensional heaven, intention
is no more than a scurrying shadow,
reality a fading apparition.