Lit Up
Published in

Lit Up

Mama

verse translation of the poem of the same title by Attila József

artist: Tibor Pólya (National Gallery of Hungary)

Mama’s been on my mind all week long
as I start and stop, amble along.
Creaking old basket held to her waist,
she’d climb up to the attic with haste.

I was rather honest, back then,
I’d scream and stomp, in a tantrum.
Leave the laundered sheets to another.
Take me to the attic, I’d beg her.

She kept hanging the clothes, silently,
she neither scolded, nor glanced at me.
And those fabrics, bright, fluttering whites,
danced and floated to dizzying heights.

I wouldn’t whine now, but that time’s passed,
I see, at last, what powers she has —
tracing the clouds, with her silv’ry hair,
blending bleach with the bluish-grey air.

Attila József (1905 — 1937) started from humble origins and a troubled childhood — abandoned by his father, sent to foster parents at the age of five by his struggling mother — to become one of the giants of 20th century poetry in his nation. He died at a young age in a tragic accident that was suspected by some to be suicide.

the original:

Mama

Már egy hete csak a mamára
gondolok mindíg, meg-megállva.
Nyikorgó kosárral ölében,
ment a padlásra, ment serényen.

Én még őszinte ember voltam,
ordítottam, toporzékoltam.
Hagyja a dagadt ruhát másra.
Engem vigyen föl a padlásra.

Csak ment és teregetett némán,
nem szidott, nem is nézett énrám
s a ruhák fényesen, suhogva,
keringtek, szálltak a magosba.

Nem nyafognék, de most már késő,
most látom, milyen óriás ő –
szürke haja lebben az égen,
kékítőt old az ég vizében.

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Joe Váradi

Joe Váradi

Editor of No Crime in Rhymin' and Language Lab | ..."come for the sarcasm, stay for my soft side"