My favourite poet is Endre Ady and I've been planning to post about him for a long time but have always decided no to because I couldn't find a proper translation to make you understand why he is so special, so brilliant, so outstanding.
The truth is, Hungarian language is beautiful and rich in words, expressions and because of this, it's practically impossible to translate Hungarian poems, especially when it comes to someone like Ady, who uses so many words and synonyms, symbols, etc.
He was The poet, the man everyone wanted to know. According to a famous writer who had the privilege of being his acquaintance, "everyone around him was sparkling for him, everyone around him wanted to be more beuatiful, more intelligent, more evil and more heady - everyone around him, even the most balanced created hysteria around them to get closer to him."
His poems are filled with pain, bitter love, death, sadness, religion (most of the time his religious references are references to Biblical persons, events and when he talks about God or Jesus, he does that without belonging to any churches) and audacity.
His life was adventurous, filled with Paris and women - he has lived a thousand lives until his death in 1919 (he was born in 1877).
His most famous relationship was with a woman called Léda - during their relationship (and Léda was married...) he had treated her like a goddess. Then when he decided to break up, he wrote the most despising love poem in Hungarian literature, Sweet Letter of Dismissal. The effect was so painful for the lady and even for him that later he wrote a nicer break up poem (its title is basically not translateable). This is just one anecdote from his life...
SWEET LETTER OF DISMISSAL
Let the charm that broke a hundred times again.
You are dismissed once more and for the very last
if you believed that I should always keep you
or that there was still need to be dismissed.
Stricken, a hundred times, I throw at you
the ample, lordly rope of my forgetting.
Now clad yourself against the greater cold,
now clad yourself because I pity us
for the great shame of the unequal strife,
for your humiliation and all else.
In a word, by now I pity only you.
How long and how in secret it has been like this.
To gild your fate how many times there sprang
from chating grace the lovely Leda psalms,
concocted and conveyed for sake of art for art.
I never did receive or take away.
I gently handed you the heresy
of kisses that in mind I kissed with others,
of love acts that in mind I loved with others;
and now I thank you for as many embraces,
I thank you for as many one-time Ledas
as any male may have the power to thank
when stepping over an old and worn-out kiss.
How long since I have tried to look for you
in sand dunes of the past and troubled present.'
On your future's slawish womanish path
how long ago I had dismissed you from my mind.
How long I searched for nothing
but to bequeath you something from myself
and my unique poetic, trumped-up charges
that in your orphaned love you might find solace
and claim you also were, not only he
who could not bear the weight alone
and hung some ornaments upon a woman.
From my proud breast which is insatiable and great
I wanted to behold a gentle fall
and not the small revenge of a forsaken female
who in her fury waits in ambush with some man,
and not the mocking ot your poor and little self,
for I had placed my Croesus mark on you
and gave you cause for faith that you belonged to me
and that your passing should take place unseen.
I presented you the largess of my embraces
that you would find a joy in them,
and you were nothing but a little question mark
until with my arrival you became fulfilled.
Will you flutter like a dessicated flower
from the leaves of a long tranquil prayer book
or will you flounce about and wear to rags
your purchased nimbus - this despotic, sombre yoke -
and my self-idolizing prayers
which stammer after all for some deserving woman?
I ask the destiny not to let you
presume to cross my starry fate.
Whatever swallows you, a flood or dross,
you live through me because I saw you, but long ago
you ceased to be because I ceased to see you.
(This Fugitive Life, 1912)
Tr: Anton N. Nyerges and me
And believe me, this translation is nothing compared to the original one. I am terribly sad and feeling dumb because it's not possible to show the world what a genious he was. If someone, anyone decides to learn Hungarian, this is the best reason - to understand poems. No matter how hard this language is to learn, it is worth it to read the masterpieces in all their glory.