Translator's notes

Two poems by Jànos Pilinszky

By János Pilinszky

János Pilinszky (1921–81) is probably the greatest Hungarian poet of the post-war period. He is best remembered for his poems of the 1950s which bear witness to the horrors of the Second World War and mid-twentieth- century Europe. Three selections have appeared in English: Selected Poems translated by Ted Hughes and János Csokits (Carcanet, 1976; later expanded as The Desert of Love (Anvil, 1989)), Crater by Peter Jay (Anvil, 1978) and Passio: Fourteen Poems (Worple, 2012) by Clive Wilmer and George Gömöri. These volumes overwhelmingly emphasise the work of the 1950s. The two poems published here, both from the 1970s, typify his later poetry – austerely economical and enigmatic, with the outlook of a Christian Existentialist, who feels abandoned by God. The first of this pair addresses the most admired of all modern Hungarian poets, Attila József (1905–37), whose tragic and socially alert poetry arose from a working-class childhood of extreme poverty.

Contributor and student discounts

If you are a student, or if you contribute to MPT you are eligible for a great discount deal when you subscribe…» Subscribe now

Back to top
Supported by Arts Council England

Copyright © Modern Poetry in Translation and contributors
Website design ashbydesign
Developed by Code Frontiers
Powered by Storemill