The Seventh, by József Attila


The Seventh
J. Attila

Pic from here

If you set out in this world,
better be born seven times.
Once, in a house on fire,
once, in a freezing flood,
once, in a wild madhouse,
once, in a field of ripe wheat,
once, in an empty cloister,
and once among pigs in sty.
Six babes crying, not enough:
you yourself must be the seventh.

When you must fight to survive,
let your enemy see seven.
One, away from work on Sunday,
one, starting his work on Monday,
one, who teaches without payment,
one, who learned to swim by drowning,
one, who is the seed of a forest,
and one, whom wild forefathers protect,
but all their tricks are not enough:
you yourself must be the seventh.

If you want to find a woman,
let seven men go for her.
One, who gives heart for words,
one, who takes care of himself,
one, who claims to be a dreamer,
one, who through her skirt can feel her,
one, who knows the hooks and snaps,
one, who steps upon her scarf:
let them buzz like flies around her.
You yourself must be the seventh.

If you write and can afford it,
let seven men write your poem.
One, who builds a marble village,
one, who was born in his sleep,
one, who charts the sky and knows it,
one, whom words call by his name,
one, who perfected his soul,
one, who dissects living rats.
Two are brave and four are wise;
You yourself must be the seventh.

And if all went as was written,
you will die for seven men.
One, who is rocked and suckled,
one, who grabs a hard young breast,
one, who throws down empty dishes,
one, who helps the poor win;
one, who worked till he goes to pieces,
one, who just stares at the moon.
The world will be your tombstone:
you yourself must be the seventh.

József Attila

Original version (Hungarian)

A hetedik

E világon ha ütsz tanyát,
hétszer szűljön meg az anyád!
Egyszer szűljön égő házban,
egyszer jeges áradásban,
egyszer bolondok házában,
egyszer hajló, szép búzában,
egyszer kongó kolostorban,
egyszer disznók közt az ólban.
Fölsír a hat, de mire mégy?
A hetedik te magad légy!

Ellenség ha elődbe áll,
hét legyen, kit előtalál.
Egy, ki kezdi szabad napját,
egy, ki végzi szolgálatját,
egy, ki népet ingyen oktat,
egy, kit úszni vízbe dobtak,
egy, ki magva erdőségnek,
egy, kit őse bőgve védett,
csellel, gánccsal mind nem elég, –
a hetedik te magad légy!

Szerető után ha járnál,
hét legyen, ki lány után jár.
Egy, ki szivet ad szaváért,
egy, ki megfizet magáért,
egy, ki a merengőt adja,
egy, ki a szoknyát kutatja,
egy, ki tudja, hol a kapocs,
egy, ki kendőcskére tapos, –
dongják körül, mint húst a légy!
A hetedik te magad légy.

Ha költenél s van rá költség,
azt a verset heten költsék.
Egy, ki márványból rak falut,
egy, ki mikor szűlték, aludt,
egy, ki eget mér és bólint,
egy, kit a szó nevén szólít,
egy, ki lelkét üti nyélbe,
egy, ki patkányt boncol élve.
Kettő vitéz és tudós négy, –
a hetedik te magad légy.

S ha mindez volt, ahogy írva,
hét emberként szállj a sírba.
Egy, kit tejes kebel ringat,
egy, ki kemény mell után kap,
egy, ki elvet üres edényt,
egy, ki győzni segít szegényt,
egy, ki dolgozik bomolva,
egy, aki csak néz a Holdra:
Világ sírköve alatt mégy!
A hetedik te magad légy.

My friend Sharrow told me that she sees relationships between my stuff “Wish” and this poem by J.Attila; she also proposed me a different translation of the last verse of each stanza: “You to be the seventh, yourself!”; really I like more her versione.

She also shared me a song using Attila’s poem as lyric, this one.

I think this interesting Hungarian poet should be better known!

Thank you Sharrow.

4 comments on “The Seventh, by József Attila

  1. Hungarian poet are great!
    Do u know about finnish poet? U should love them too!

    Like

  2. Lasciare affiorare ogni contrasto di noi, essere indecifrabili…ci salverà? bella posia, grazie e buona giornata!

    Like

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