Gyula Illyes

Poets Among Each Other

There can be no virtuous man
Who stops writing poetry
And stops telling the truth.

He does not lie, he does not cheat…
Is this all this sort manages?
This is how we stand, my brother, with this.

Even with fate’s aid, you will go nowhere
Without a high-lived heated polemic.
If the poet be silent, he turns blue.

Like someone gasping for air —
With him all turns pale, choking…
To them he is the opening mouth.

What strange bible-quoting…
Epidemic! But empires fell
Not getting one breath of poetry.

How grotesque! And yet I sing (or echo?):
Those who don’t cry out our truth
Will earn their suffocation.

— translated from the Hungarian by Emöke B’Racz, David Zucker