Summer 1996 • Vol. XVIII No. 3/4 PoetryJuly 1, 1996 |

If I Had Believed

Translated from the Hungarian by Len Roberts If I had believed the whispers, the winds, the prophecies raised in a cradle, this night would not be so long, this wall would not be rotting the garbage, and the foot on the bedstead's bumper would not be traveling homelessly either, and maybe it would not be so dark--I'd sit with the celebrated ventriloquists in the tall chair of my glory and a redding rose-troop would march before me, and a spurred flock of birds, and parachuted girl-hair in a storm of applause, and none of them would give me horns with junkyard-car antlers, and my head could not be brought to a national ball, like an ox head that's knife-adorned-- And on the lovely spinning-top evenings the gardens would shade me, and the spokes of the trees, and I'd have time to eat, to drink, to die, I'd have time to build a nest beneath the basalt mountain and just gaze upward at the wrinkles of a kite's eternal   face, gloating while bowing; all right, world! We float, we

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Sándor Csoóri, a leading contemporary Hungarian poet, essayist, and scriptwriter, has been called "the genius of discontent" and is considered to be one of the most prominent artistic spokespersonsfor the Hungarian people during the pastfour decades. He is the author of thirteen volumes of poetry and five volumes of essays. Recipient of the Attila Józef Prize in Poetry, he also won the prestigious Kossuth Award, Hungary's greatest honor for achievement in artistic and scientific work.
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Len Roberts's two most recent books of poetry, The Trouble-Making Finch (1998) and Counting the Black Angels (1994), were published by the University of Illinois Press. His book of translation, Selected Poems of Sándor Csoóri, was published by Copper Canyon in 1992.

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