Miklos Radnoti

(1909-1944 / Hungary)

Forced March


Crazy, who, from collapsing, gets up for new advance,
and moves in stumbling torture the limbs to get his chance,
and still is heading forward as if with wings he'd fly,
in vain the trench is calling, he does not dare to die.
He'd answer to your question, what for this strain's to stand,
that there's a dear wife waiting, and perhaps a wiser end.
Yet this good guy's quite crazy, through his old home behind
since long the winds are blowing, from blaze and ashes blind.
The back wall fell to pieces, the plum tree's broken down,
and gotten rough from scaring those nights so sweet at home.
Oh, couldn't I believe yet - not kept in heart alone -
that there is still a homeland, so dear for me to roam;
if there were still the old porch, and sitting in the sun,
and peaceful bees were humming while cools the jelly plum,
the ending summer dozing o'er the garden's dreamy flair,
and midst green foliage swaying the fruit so firm and bare,
and Fanni stands there waiting, blonde, the hawthorn hedge aside,
and shadows written slowly by a slow late morning's light. -
Could all this still come true yet! The moon's so round today!
Don't stride ahead, my comrade, shout at me - I can't stay!

Submitted: Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Edited: Wednesday, December 04, 2013

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