György Rába

György Rába ( 1924 - )

A native of Budapest, Rába received his diploma from the University of Budapest in Hungarian and French Language and Literature. In 1957 he was employed at the Literary Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, a quiet and scholarly post that gave him the opportunity to avoid the politics of the Kádár regime. He received his Ph.D. in 1983.

In marked contrast to the intellectual and elegiac poetry of his generation, Rába's early poetry is suffused with objective and ironic elements, reminiscent of the literature of the 19th century. His subsequent work develops a terse poetic style - the narrative epic content is expounded through a condensed series of visions. This idiosyncratic style enables Rába to elucidate the dramatic turns of life. The poetry of his maturity unites dreams, visions, culture, erudition, and philosophy in a unique synthesis; his epic and dramatic constructions lend a new objectivity to his critical moods and sympathetic sentiments. He resurrects the song form and also creates memorable prose-poems.

He received the Attila József Prize in 1983 and the Széchenyi Prize in 1993.


I've eaten plenty through the centuries
and now I fancy more adventurous
and sweeter tidbits than your smelly thin
bones and your bitter driftwood-tainted skin

three days and three nights squatting in my guts?
twenty-four hours would surely drive me nuts
you'd bruise my bowel vex my gastric flu
and let your manic manifesto spew

forth you unbending furious believer
you are a city in hormonal fever
yourself where but a whisper need be passed
and lo the populace begins to fast

but market noises roar below your chest
with dancing women wriggling hip and breast
science is scorned by witches of both genders
and chastity by clumsy ribbon vendors

and though the king wears sack-cloth in atonement
you stop your sermonizing for a moment
to join the fair's orgasmic pilgrimage
and drool over a peepshow's fake image

and then you roar for justice on the stage
obsessed ham actor putting up a rage
just seeing festive tables cheerful beds
you call brimstone and fire on their heads

you will remain a prophet till you die
why shall I give you lodgings tell me why
with mortals one should never fraternise
who couldn't make it into Paradise


  © All rights belong to the authors or their heirs. 2004.