Petôcz András néhány angolra fordított verse az
In praise of the sea / Lobgesang des Meeres
címû angol-német kötetébôl

EUROPE, METAPHORICALLY (Európa metaforája)


She twirls herself, turns round, twirls once more,
posing, smiling, laughing, beckoning airily,
drifts off, only to turn back beckoning, offering,
repulsing, coolly firm, and then turns away,
so that you think, well, it’s hopeless, when she glances back
lightly, sidelong, her eyes opening, pupils wide,
and wider yet, and she’s laughing at you, at you alone,
laughing gaily, and you freeze, astonished,
your throat constricting, as she hovers lovely
and out of reach, out of reach and lovely,
smiling at you, her head inclined aside,
her hair brushing one cheek, there she is and yet not,
unbelievable and simply gorgeous, and your heart tightens
as she stands there so lovely, and out of reach.


Sometimes she feels like sleeping in, curled up,
burrowing into her pillow, sniffling, scrabbling,
fussing, ignoring your presence, lost beneath the quilt,
„Lights out!” you say, and she just smirks, and
squeals as you make your move, then laughs out loud,
clowning around, making fun of you, acting silly,
you think you’re getting sore, but you don’t quite make it,
you’re laughing too, while the time slips by, though
you never notice time slipping by as she graciously and oh
so generously lets you take her little mitt in yours,
how light it is, you say, as light as she herself,
you say, and you move so lightly that
it’s as though you’re flying, yes you’re so light, light
as a body sighing: solid, yet light as air.


Perhaps you’re running, even sprinting.
Surprised, you watch yourself in motion.
You’re dashing over a new meadow, perhaps
running among bushes, past thickets, sprinting
exhilarated, panting, gasping, stopping for strength,
and yet moving ahead again, winded,
discouraged, clenching your fists in despair
you start off again, tumble over
a bluff, grinding your teeth, chagrined
at your own demise. You slow down. You take
a deep breath, recalling how you ran,
how hard you fell in your thoughts,
and you smile. Your lungs are full of fresh air,
you’re safe now, infinitely calm, infinitely at peace.

Translated by Jascha Kessler

ESCAPE THROUGH A STRANGE LAND (Futásom, idegen tájban)

Behind me, coming in relays: an appalled silence.
Can’t shake them. Implacable pursuit. Behind me
an appalled silence. Implacable in pursuit:
an appalled silence and a stillness. Implacably
coming on behind me, pursuing me, an appalled
silence, a stillness, implacably coming on, still
and silent: behind me, in relays.

Their feet soundlessly pounding: dreamlike.
Dreamlike: an appalling silence, a stillness.
Feet coming after me, in relays,
soundless panting, and pounding feet.
Visible as blurry forms: I can make out
their blurry forms, their blurry forms visible.
Visible, when I glance back behind me.

I fled through a sort of forest. A sort
of forest through which I fled till now, a sort of forest
till now, through dunes now. Surrounded
by a waste of sand now, in twilight, I can make out
their hazy forms when I glance back, twilight, and
darkening everywhere. Mostly just darkening. Just
darkening, mostly just a leaden darkening.

They pant silently. A silent panting, but
I know, I can sense their wheezing. As
if it’s my dream. That silent wheezing
but I know that panting of theirs. I’m
wheezing: Silence. Stillness. A shocked
silence. Gaining. My hunters gain on me.
Barren sands all around. No, just that grayness.

As if I’m dreaming. No, just grayness all around,
or no, just silence. A twilight silence. I can
almost hear them panting, they’re here yet
I can’t hear them. A shooting match. They mouth
those words behind me, but I know what they say.
A shooting match. I’m thrown off-stride, I’m stiff, jerky
cramping, all cramp and spasm, I can’t

let my hunters gain on me. I’m fading.
I can’t let my hunters gain on me, I tell
myself, but I know they’re gaining, gaining on me
steadily, their silhouettes behind me clearer and
clearer, I can almost hear them pant, though
I’m muffled in silence, wrapped in stillness.
I can almost hear their panting, I tell myself,

almost hear, with their guns cocked and aimed, as if I’m
dreaming, as if it’s all a stupid, senseless
apparition, a dream dreaming, my hunters behind
me. I run on, pressing, pressing and
wheezing surrounded by shocked silence,
by a stillness in which I still hear them, my hunters, nearer always
nearer, a marathon run, endless, senseless

a strange run, I hear those hunters and
can’t guess how long it will go on, or when I can rest,
or it will ever end?, can’t even guess when it will
end, if ever, my escape through this weird landscape,
this waste of sand, twilight gray and dim as dusk,
this drear mirage, silent and senseless, as if
I’m dreaming. I run in senseless silence

through a waste of sand and along forest trails, through vast
meadows, as if I dream this as-if world.
This flight through myself never ends,
an impossible endurance, silent
still, surrounded by formless grayness. Formless grayness all around me,
grotesque forms and ghastly shapes, behind me
those blurry shapes of grotesque, ghastly forms.

Translated by Jascha Kessler

THE LAKE AT DAWN (Hajnali tó)

Vast water: the silence of dawn.
Celestial blue: silence, dawn’s
vast water. Vast, celestial, blue
silence, dawn’s vast water.

Velvety swells. Silent,
rippling tremors, silence,
vast water, celestial blue,
velvety rippling trem-

ors, haze, thickening swells,
vast water, blue, rippling, vel-
vety stirrings, celestial,

blue silence, swelling vel-
vety stirrings, rip-
pling, dawn blue, celestial.

Translated by Jascha Kessler

A BANAL POEM, SUBJECT: LOVE (Banális vers a szerelemrôl)

Those we loved, they’re dead.
Faces behind hands, shy
shawls dropped, modestly awry.
Those we love, they’re married.

Those we loved are busy in the kitchen.
Darkling hair heavy as a cross of flowers,
yet weightless. On you their gaze lowers.
Those we loved are bearing children.

(I wait for you in silence, without pain.
My back to the border, on a clattering train.
You caress your hands with mine.)

(You put my lips to yours. Kiss your lips with mine.
Dremonstrations asleep, songs asleep too.
Those we loved, they’re dead too.)

Translated by Jascha Kessler

THE DESIRE FOR DESIRÉE (Désirée óhajtása)


First I wanted just her body. Only her body.
I watched all her movements. I saw the clothes
fit closely round her body and I thought I knew what
the softly flowing textiles concealed, the décolletage
and the crinkles and the coverings and the cuts and
the rows of stitches: I thought I knew her bends, the
smoothness and softness of her skin, I thought I felt
her breasts and her thighs --- the arched hips, the vulva
cling closely and open slightly, smoothly ---
the disclosing of the vulva’s smooth, composed line.
I thought I knew and saw all these. I desired
her body. I wanted it. I nearly trembled with desire.
I nearly trembled: I desired desire.


Later her laughter, too. Her restrained devotion.
Her shyness and self-display. Her untouched
chastity. I wanted her chastity, too. Her sadness.
Her happiness. Her naivity, knowledge, delight
and even her tears. At last I wanted everything.
Everything. Then I wanted none but her. As if she had
stepped forth from the nineteen-twenties, her dress,
demeanor, movements, her concealed yearning for love,
all her gestures displayed the strangeness and
the intriguing atmosphere of a bygone world:
then I wanted only that atmosphere ---
Desirée, I said in myself, Desirée:
my desire and my yearning, I said as if in dated terms.


And reality: it proved to be even greater. I was nearly
petrified by surprise when I caught full sight of her
body. I was astonished to see her body’s harmony.
Be desired, I said, be called henceforward Desirée.
For you are desired, in every instant. I said so
then, I told that body: you are Desirée,
that’s what you are, and I want your desire.
Reality became greater than I’d hoped. Her body was
softer, fuller and more beautiful than I’d expected.
Her breasts shapelier, the arched line of her vulva more
delightful than anything. I bend over her like mad every time.
I bend over her mad with desire, forgetful of everything,
of sadness and all. I bend over her in flight.


And be desired, she said while holding me in her arms:
because happy are the desired, each and all, she said with eyes
closed, in a desperate embrace. And our bodies cuddled up
to each other. Happy are those who want to love, she said,
today happy are the desired ones. I want you, she said,
want your movements, because they all are good for me,
want your caresses, because they all are good for me.
Give you my untouched young body, because I’m yearning
now for your embrace. I give you my vulnerable young body,
because I am yearning --- even for pain. Desired you are,
and I desire your desire, and do with me whatever you want
to do, she said, for happy are the desired ones, each and all,
and what I want to be is: desired-for-ever.

Translated by István Tótfalusi


Old and Cold,
they were friends.
Not so close,
just hand in hand.

„How are you”,
asked the Old.
„I am fine,
but have a cold.”

„And how are you”,
asked the Cold.
„I’m fine too,
just have an old.”

And they were walking
hand in hand,
Old and Cold,
the two good friends.

English version by András Petôcz

ARTIC (A tag)

Articulated speech. Articulated speech.
Well, hell! Articulated speech.
Bit stinking. Smells. It smells, does.

Sure. Sure. Why, why. Articul spee.
Welcome in our company, Your LochNess!
Sure, sure. Smells. It smells, does.

Ohh-ahh-ahh! Well said
. Artic spee LochNess.
Rather. ‘Course. ‘Course, ‘course.


Translated by István Tótfalusi

IN PRAISE OF THE SEA (A tenger dicsérete)

At the edge you stop,
like that, easily,
though in your head
you let the pen run on,

tracing its airy arcs,
its peaceful, lighthearted
jogging run over
the undulating endless

smooth white blank
page of paper,
you let it run as though
running over the sea,

your feet touching
the tops of the waves,
treading their troughs,
arcing over their crests,

the pen, your pen it is,
half-dreaming, half-falling,
and yet still:
almost awake.

At the edge you stop,
infinite waters before you
infinite watery surface,
and you glance at it,

contemplating the waves,
their life rising, falling,
resurging, panting, dashing up,
and crashing down again,

and up above! the gulls
screeching in the air,
albatrosses, and
all those other birds

flying and floating by
as you gaze at them,
envying their easy flow
over their own pages,

and watch your pen
run on, on yours,
your laughter as they
run, racing up

from out of nothing,
your words, the waters,
their deepest deeps,
the repeating rhythms

perhaps, of the waves
falling again, and new again
the crashing tops of the waves,
and the longing,

the longing to utter
at last, to be able at last
to utter, to tear out of yourself
out of yourself

rend from yourself that
What is this? Infinite waters. . .
and a still sea.
The light voice!

The sea cannot be uttered,
whether heavily, or
lightly, the prankish
pen runs nowhere.

But the birds! They know
why they are wheeling
overhead, and they know
who called them here,

and who it is
will gently see
to them when their
loveliness is gone.

Translated by Jascha Kessler