Poems by Sándor Halmosi

Επιμέλεια: Εύα Πετροπούλου Λιανού

Translated from the Hungarian by Elizabeth Csicsery-Ronay

Bio: Sándor Halmosi (1971), Hungarian poet, literary translator, editor, publisher and mathematician, was born and attended grammar school in Szatmárnémeti (Satu Mare, Romania). He lived in Germany for 16 years and graduated from the University of Stuttgart. Since 2006 he has been living in Budapest, Hungary. Besides all his literary activities he gives presentations on tradition, poetry, language, and symbols. He attaches importance to promoting poetry and cultural dialogue, as well as the interconnection of literature and fine arts. In 2016 he started making cloisonné enamel artworks. Halmosi is the founder of many literary and cultural associations, organizer of workshops and salons, member of the Hungarian PEN Club (Budapest) and of the European Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters (EASAL, Paris). He has been closely connected to a global network of poets and writer associations. He published a literary manifesto in February 2020, with the title Ora et labora. Crying-out for Pure Literature. This is an attempt to shine a light on the spiritual crisis of the world, through an authentic poetic stance and the responsibility of the literates – independent of their respective countries, linguistic and social characteristics. He is the coordinator of the World Poetry Movement Hungary.

THE LOVER’S CODEX (Szeretőkódex)

about sanctity, benders and how small we are

And there will come the time when everything falls
into place. This is the time when he starts to become
aware of what things are called, the scent flowers emanate
and the shape leaves have. This time he trots in windflower,
plucks cornflower, yellow flag and iris, the protected blue one.
When he multiplies the wine, the fish. Rubs lavender, basil
and citrus plants into his palm. Starts parallel stories.
Gives up on things.

Against all belief, neither the lover nor the sweetheart
are historical figures but rather soul guides. They lead each
other and the world back to themselves – and then away from
these. They teach each other again to speak in a new language
the nth after the silence. They approach the unapproachable
from the second, the fifth and nth angle. It is not the first time
they meet, and still they do not exist for their own good,
and if they sometimes cross the line, the limits never do this
with them.

Sometimes you have to bow your head before you can raise it.

The lover breaks the stunned silence, inserts herself into
the lack of communication, generates new dialogues, in-between
spaces, builds bridges, demolishes walls, smooths things over,
or administers the last sacrament. He does not aim to consent
to a fake relationship or to ruin things, and yet, he cannot avoid doing these. So, he has nightmares. He knows that even
the worst marriage is sanctity and continuity, but he also knows
that life and the beloved’s joy is also sacred. It is the greatest joy.
He distributes it in the world.

The lover lets go every day.

The lover is let to go every day.

The lover is alone a great deal. And when he is, he does not sleep,
but sifts even prime numbers and looks for perfect numbers, 3, 5, 6, 28. 53.

The lover loves. The lover is hated.

Whenever he can, the lover uses the trees as an excuse.
The twin trees of Solitude are of the same age, healthy trees, intertwined forever – this is what the lover says. In his foolish
mind is the rakishness. He opens the chakras of the house and lets light and air in.

The lover is loved. The lover hates.

A man’s pride has no worth without the wave-releasing hands
of his sweetheart. Wave releasing is no worth without regular work and the joy found in the family and in belonging to a community. If you generate beauty and meaning,
perhaps you might escape.

If you are missing from your own space, the light drains.
If you are present, life expands.

Under his hands the air lies down, he spreads a rope tight
from tower to tower, a garland of flowers from window
to window, a golden chain from soul to soul, and he keeps
dancing. He learns the meaning of Sunday, Monday,
Tuesday, gets his lecture of Thursday, Saturday,
the evening, the dawn and the noon.

The lover is long enduring.

One word, one galaxy, one world.

Meridians, ellipses, circles. Telescopes.

When you have clear conscience, the world becomes clean
and clear. Chopping wood, having walks, picking flowers,
making love on the car seat covered with a blanket, writing
and immersing in the text you are reading. Hiding is a strategic
activity that does not agree with writing, reading, having walks,
picking flowers, making love on the car seat, on the fields
on the margin of the rain, corn in the air. Cannot restore
the autocracy of the clear conscience.

We think that all our weeping tears have dried up and have lost
all the credit gambling, but I say where there is love there is
no harshness, and where there is harshness, there is no love
and no life. There is no dance, no silence and no music.
But really, what does he know about life.

The lover is embraced. Back and front.

Every human being is born with a whole soul, and then
everybody sells it. A poem is always left there under the swing
but nobody waves from the window with the blinds closed.
On the playground just the usual picture, a mother with her
two kids. Taking the world into account, just the Pure Reality,
no ecstasy. The human goes to work, buys a flat, gets married,
puts a vase with flowers on to the table. The man stands up,
dusts himself off and ties his shoelace. Looks around and says,
I have already seen this but what about adding some colour
to it. Or, I haven’t seen this yet, there must be something new
under the sun.

The continuity of words creates soothing silence.
The soothing silence brings back the dreams, the dreams bring
back the inner vision, the inner vision brings back the myths,
and they bring back the idea, and the idea will bring serenity
and tactfulness. And so what used to be tough will soften
just like the moss on the rim of a well.

Silence harms where it’s the softest, it rips things apart,
gives way to useless bad and worse guesses. In silence the lack
of reference point makes everything fall apart. Cow-wheat,
gentian, yellow wolf’s bane.

You own what you hold onto.
What you let go, will come back to you.

What you drop, will break.

The lover is a human, too. He would like to be seen
and to belong to someone.

There’s a time for everything that has space. This is considered
the norm, the silence of the weekdays. When you may make
mistakes and be wrong, offend people and be offended,
you can excuse people and be excused, – this is the space
of generosity. In it you can be yourself. The lover has
no space and time. Everything else but these.

The lover is always a bit ridiculous. He sits on a red bench
that wobbles. Peeling potatoes, while the hexameters.
Walks the Military Road to Fehérvár.

The lover gets in everybody’s way. Even in his or her own.

Data bases diminish and become obsolete over time.
What is left is the loose system of patterns showing the hands,
the eyes, the posture of hips and the back. The cheats, the lies,
the caressing, lifting the beloved, the manipulation, the kisses,
offenses, the seasons. The joy of working together. The braid
of anxiety and bales of smiles. The dignity of standing up,
acknowledging the other, of frankness in the eye and that
of clear situations. These will endure until the end of times.

There’s no good or bad way to love. Love is for love’s sake.

Joy cannot be measured, it can only be given.
Or taken away.

The lover starts to have a suspicion that one cannot have
two sweethearts, and that it is impossible to wait for the
only one for 30 years. He goes to the grove and sits down.

(De ez most mind nem fontos)

the enamel is
and the dance the kungfu
so that every morning
the children should go
with pure hearts
clean shirts
and ample lunches

this is more important than anything

the intimate ten minutes of the sauna
the orchard of Kőszeg
the almond trees
the Cassiopeia
and oh, those old pieces of furniture
shoe shops
the delicious coffees
know more about life
than the Colliers on book shelves
and for guidebooks there are the spring bulbs
yesterday’s fragrant-crisp cinnamon bun
the hospitable pansy

and all the while to be a wife
and housewife
to be a woman

what can I say about myself
that I haven’t said yet
I can just repeat myself
there is a time for everything
and a place for everything
you cannot love well or badly
you can just love
you cannot measure joy
you can just bring it
or take it away
there are no two darlings
and so on

and we have to take care of ourselves
for we have not come here to destroy
but to build
faith through a good word
peace through a good silence
a table from wood
through dreams and manual labour
a house, a home, an atelier

this is what I believe

and that the desire for possession
and expectations ruin everything
if you want to keep something of life
you have to let it go
you have to share it
for everything is ephemeral
but yet the eternal is somehow
made up of these ephemeral things
from the glass on the table
from your smile
as I wait for you
as you went away

as the garlic baguette baked on the oven

and yet they say that all we see
hear experience
the whole material world is just an illusion
only what is invisible exists
only what lives desires not
and what is essential
lies in the other
and yet we can reach salvation
only through the transfiguration of this world
every object, movement, word
thought brought into unity
and we have no other path or possibility
we have no other choice
than to transfigure this world
and lift it up to the miraculous

I don’t know if this is a speech
perhaps it isn’t important
miracle or survival tactic
it’s all the same

this can be like
the medicinal herbs in the attic
like the taming down of the fox
there deep inside

IL TRENO A DOMANI (Il treno a domani)

In December, I could write only about how
presence, clear situations and the kind of curtains
that are in the antechamber and the living room,
and what kind of drapery on the past. And about
how continuity, and what you can do today
don’t put off till tomorrow.

But everybody speaks for themselves, and must
speak, so that silence should not be guessing
between bad and worse. Hable con ella.

Today there is what was yesterday,
necessarily and mercilessly, and tomorrow
will be, what there is today.
Only in this way can we manage wisely,
and this is no small thing.
For white magic is better than black,
and the morning dew and arguing is better
than white magic. The afternoon work
and working on each other at night.
That scrubbing and scouring
and that tub-shaming kneading.