The Junction
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The Junction

Lóci falls asleep

a verse translation of a poem by Lőrinc Szabó

artist: Jeremy Norton

Lőrinc Szabó often invoked his children in his poems. Young Lőrinc went by the nickname Lóci, pronounced “low-tsee”. The original poem below has a 8–8–9–6 syllabic rhyming structure in each verse, which I preserved.

Lóci falls asleep

We thought he was fast asleep, when
suddenly, loud and quite awake,
rose the voice, from the room next door, of
ㅤㅤㅤ Lóci, my young namesake.

„Mommy, why are people buried?”
— he asked of us adults, and we
glanced at one another, in our eyes
ㅤㅤㅤ alarm and mystery,

what could Lóci be thinking of,
what troubles torment his young mind,
and in that muddy moment’s chaos
ㅤㅤㅤ not one of us replied.

„Who do they put under the ground?”
— said the child, with more urgency.
„Those who are dead,” — her mother replied,
ㅤㅤㅤ swiftly and laughingly.

„Ah — them?” – the little one calmed down,
his darkest suspicions dispelled.
„Only them?… Okay, good!” — he added
ㅤㅤㅤ and fell asleep, at last.

Here are some more pieces featuring dialogue between Szabó and his children: Lóci Writes a Poem and Little Klara’s Surprise. And, the original:

Lóci elalszik

Azt hittük, már rég alszik, és
egyszerre frissen, hangosan
megszólalt a szomszéd szobából
ㅤㅤㅤ Lóci, a kisfiam.

„Anyuka, kit temetnek el?”
– kérdezte; és mi, a nagyok,
összenéztünk, és a szemünkben
ㅤㅤㅤ veszély volt és titok,

hogy mire gondol Lóci és
mitől fél, hol jár az esze,
s a meglepetés zavarában
ㅤㅤㅤ nem felelt senki se.

„Kit tesznek le a föld alá?”
– sürgette most már a gyerek.
„Azt, aki meghalt”, – szólt az anyja
ㅤㅤㅤ gyorsan és nevetett.

„A-azt?” – békült meg a kicsi,
felejtve minden rossz gyanút.
„Csak azt?… Akkor jó!” – tette hozzá
ㅤㅤㅤ és most már elaludt.

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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"

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