Postcard 4

Final Poem of Miklós Radnóti. Image: Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Final Poem of Miklós Radnóti.
Image: Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

I fell next to him, his body rolled over.
It was already as tight as a string before it snaps.
Shot in the back of the head — “This is how you’ll end.”
“Just lie quietly,” I whispered to myself.
Patience flowers into death now.
“Wait until you see this one blossom,” I heard above me.
Mud mixed with blood was drying on my ear.

Szentkirályszabadja, October 31, 1944

Mellézuhantam, átfordult a teste
s feszes volt már, mint húr, ha pattan.
Tarkólövés. — Így végzed hát te is, —
Súgtam magamnak, — csak feküdj nyugodtan.
Halált virágzik most a türelem. —
Der springt noch auf, — hangzott fölöttem.
Sárral kevert vér száradt fülemen.

Szentkirályszabadja, 1944. Okt. 31.

— Miklós Radnóti

Forced into service by the German army, Hungarian poet Miklós Radnóti endured most of World War II in slave-labor camps. In 1944, he collapsed from injury and exhaustion during a forced march toward Berlin. When he was unable to rise, he was shot and buried in a mass grave near the village of Abda. When the grave was exhumed after the end of the war, a small notebook holding Radnóti’s final five poems was found in the front pocket of his overcoat.

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