SIX RIDDLES AND ANSWERS
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,
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,
The link is what I seek.
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
3.riddle: Small, light blue, humble and fitting into the
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
At the tailor's
Inscribed some numbers can be
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
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
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
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.
Haraldsdóttir: Reykjavíki esô. Selected, translated and the postscript
written by Ferenc Mervel. Széphalom Könyvmuhely, Budapest 2001.)