“Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings. Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures.” (un.org)
We celebrated World Poetry Day and by that –“the linguistic diversity through poetic diversity” – just 2 weeks ago on March 21, all around the world. My favorite poet/writer Sandor Marai (1900, Budapest-1989, San Diego) is from Hungary. He provided me with strong life-inspirations from the beginning of my adulthood.
Since today is Hungarian Poetry Day, I wanted to pay tribute to Marai’s wonderful creative work by sharing a poem of his with TAP’s audience.
Marai survived the Second World War in Budapest however he decided to immigrate to the United States following the war, escaping from the growing communist regime. He used to live in New York and later in San Diego. Many of his writings were translated into English from the mid-1990s.
Let’s uncover one tiny slice of Sandor Marai’s many wonderful works now on Hungarian Poetry Day.
CREDO (QUIA ABSURDUM)
I believe in one creation, my life: this, I believe. I believe in one predestination,
my own predestination: myself. I believe in one world
and one man who belong together. I believe in the poets’ painful
wonder, the surprise that I came into being and that existence
offered me admittance. I believe in people, because I must believe
myself among them. I believe in youth, the happy sweet song above
the waters. I believe in anxious men’s inquiring unhappiness; I
believe in women’s mauling raging love and in the softness of the
gesture as they lift their infants to the nipples of their laden breasts
and bend their parched foreheads down over them. I believe in the
stubborn consequentiality of objects, in the primordial laws of
lines, in the thrilling headlong variety of colours, in the mysterious
truth-ensnaring bonds of words, in beautiful hands and in animals’
eyes. I believe in eternal matter’s hidden, internal form, in the distinction
of spoiled cats and in the goodness of the seas. I believe
in goodness and in the sweaty stupid Schadenfreude of pennypinching
evil. I believe in the mild incense aroma of simplicity, in
the bloody odour of crimes, in the cheap piety of the sentimental.
I believe in clouds and in the seasons’ changing moods; I believe in
the lacy cunning of the demimondaines of world capitals and in the
reassuring arrogance of money. I believe in the grim queues of class
warfare, in the bedridden morning fainting spells of menstruating
girls, the spicy breath of tropical plants, the star-chasing drive of
world powers. I believe in an infinite poverty that’s remorseless
and smells like humanity. I believe in the elements, and in myself.
I believe in one who can believe naively. I believe in one life, life,
life: now and forever after.
(This poem was published in the first English selection of Sándor Márai’s poems
titled: The Withering World by Alma Classics in the translations of Peter V. Czipott and John M. Ridland)