Posted by: W. E. Poplaski | July 28, 2008

POEM OF THE DAY: Forced March

by Miklos Radnoti (1909 – 1944).


Forced March


He’s foolish who, once down, resumes his weary beat,

A moving mass of cramps on restless human feet,

Who rises from the ground as if on borrowed wings,

Untempted by the mire to which he dare not cling,

Who, when you ask him why, flings back at you a word                         5

Of how the thought of love makes dying less absurd.

Poor deluded fool, the man’s a simpleton,

About his home by now only the scorched winds run,

His broken walls lie flat, his orchard yields no fruit,

His familiar nights go clad in terror’s rumpled suit.                                10

Oh could I but believe that such dreams had a base

Other than in my heart, some native resting place;

If only once again I heard the quiet hum

Of bees on the verandah, the jar of orchard plums

Cooling with late summer, the gardens half asleep,                               15

Voluptuous fruit lolling on branches dipping deep,

And she before the hedgerow stood with sunbleached hair,

The lazy morning scrawling vague shadows on the air …

Why not? The moon is full, her circle is complete.

Don’t leave me, friend, shout out, and see! I’m on my feet!                 20


–translated by George Szirtes



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