In a mirror-room touchy dummies are waiting, impatient to flit forward in the row, making airs and graces in the clothes pinned on them,


1.riddle: A bridge on two pillars resting, between two shores leading.
Answer: The two distant shores: Iceland and Hungary. Playing the role of the bridge is a sensible, versatile artist. The two pillars? One, the translator, the other, the publishing house, both indispensable. Below them, in a small boat pitching and tossing in the foam between the two shores, the reviewer. Bringing news, stirring storms, waking interest. Actually dispensable.

2.riddle: Reykjavík, Stockholm, Budapest, Oslo, Reykjavík,
     The link is what I seek.
Answer: It happened once to be, that a group of poems, enough to fill a book, left the cold North from Iceland's capital for a long journey. They had decided that since they had got their share of cold, they would go off to warm others' hearts. At their halt in Stockholm, they found someone who not only received them, but also felt an irresistible desire to have others too meeting our wanderers. Thus they came in the hands of a wise publisher, far more to the south, in Budapest. There they were afraid of not finding anything to do, that others had been faster, but the wanderers of the North were received with great interest. After some time, they couldn't have peace no more, their hearts longed back home. They lingered some time in Oslo, and were amazed that their errand was both understood and not. Then there was someone who recommended this company changed by the long road, to a literary net-journal, making them once again available in Reykjavík.

3.riddle: Small, light blue, humble and fitting into the hand.
Answer: This company of wanderers have had five beautiful, pompous dresses on Iceland. These were so special clothes, that their names, and even the year of their tailoring were recorded: Pangad vil ég fljúga, 1974; Ordspor daganna, 1983; Nú eru adrir tímar, 1989; Ljód, 1991; Höfud konunnar, 1995. These clothes were all worn off on the long journey from Stockholm to Budapest. Their new garment from Pest was called Rigning í Reykjavík, tailored in the famous Széphalom Könyvmuhely.

4.riddle: Taking a closer look
              At the tailor's notebook,
              Inscribed some numbers can be seen,
              But what could they possibly mean?
Answer: Roman numbers from I. to V. denote the number of pieces of the Hungarian dress, also hinting at the origin of the old clothes. The Arabic numbers indicate how many parts make up each piece. Piece I. for example consists of 14 poems, piece II. of 23, III. of 17, IV. of 4 and V. of 16. And finally the two last numbers tell that in the 109 pages are accommodated 74+1 poems.
In each part a magic hand has mixed and arranged the letters of the alphabet, so that the A-s and ö-s, the stiff l-s, the broken d-s, the tapping p-s, the heretic e-s, k-s, c-s, all gathered into words, formed lines, stanzas, a POEM.

5.riddle: Tailor's dummies and mirrors - what's their secret?
Answer: In a mirror-room touchy dummies are waiting, impatient to flit forward in the row, making airs and graces in the clothes pinned on them, and they step into the light so that the letters arranged into poems shine up on them. They dance, band together, here gather the poems crying for the beloved left behind, there the ones recalling the unforgettable landscapes, yonder the worries entangled in thick clouds. Blushing, motherly caring, passionate, faith giving and searching words; soundly beating lines, stiff, short, crackling ones. Elsewhere settling, rousing, alliterating, contrapunting ones. Short and long lines, internal rhythms. Free floating; reined, saddled, tamed ones.

6.riddle: What it is, shall you me tell:
              Shining heart, glittering shell.
Answer: The ornament of the dress from Pest, the necklace. An oval locket, in it a portrait made up of letters of a figurative poem. Out of the precisely formulated lines disentangle themselves a light-shadow silhouette, a fate, a career, a call, the creative existence.

I owe special thanks to the poetess Ingibjörg Haraldsdóttir, who gave me back my belief in beautiful, sensible lyric poetry. Thanks to Ferenc Mervel, the translator, who made it possible for the possessors of a small language to get acquainted with the treasures of an even smaller language. Thanks to the Széphalom Könyvmuhely publishing house, and to its prime mover, Katalin Mezey, because they know what others don't even guess: only steadfast, consistent work gives visible results. Thanks to my wife, who listened to the poems, and took me even deeper into her heart. Thanks to my son, who tried to render as closely as possible my above thoughts in English, and to whom we also can thank the translation of the below poems to English.

(Ingibjörg Haraldsdóttir: Reykjavíki esô. Selected, translated and the postscript written by Ferenc Mervel. Széphalom Könyvmuhely, Budapest 2001.)


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