A writer and translator of poetry, György Petri was born in Budapest, in 1943. He gained a degree in Philosophy and Literature from the Loránd Eötvös University of Budapest. Between 1975 and 1988, his poems could appear only as samizdat literature due to the fact that he took an active role in the Democratic Opposition. He was awarded the József Attila Prize in 1990. György Petri died on July 16, 2000.
Here I'm sitting on the bed,
I can see all the way out to the doorway,
I can see
my winter coat, my hat,
on the hanger.
my winter coat, my hat
sitting here on the bed,
and me hanging
on the hanger?
Would they watch me?
I'm trying to withdraw myself from your life:
becoming soundlessly soft, living on toetips, shoeless,
turning the key silently in the door like a burglar.
I'm trying - at the same time -
to stick to you like a toadstool to a tree,
sponge off you like mistletoe
(also known as "the sucker").
It's about time for me to grow up,
better late than never. On second thoughts,
maybe it's better never than ever.
Rain has been falling. By morning the sidewalk is slick:
it's either slushy-ice or mirror-ice.
Either way we can or we can't see ourselves.
The Coming Winter
Late flowers are fumbling in the cold fall -
Do they hope for fruit?
The most stubborn wasps have withdrawn into the winter cracks.
They don't want anything,
those flowers with their drooping, dropping petals.
Only the playfully blowing wind
urged their heads together.
Elegy and Dissertation
I'd like to shrink nowadays.
It's better if one is proactive with
events that happen to him.
The desire for death is a synonym
for a willing compromise.
Reducing size is not that bad at all;
one can fit in a baby kangaroo pouch, in a sportbag,
in an urn.
Shrinking creates fewer difficulties for a person.
Though he must gravitate. But chalk that up to
Mr. Newton's account.
Above all and after all
I would rather shrink into myself.
(I throng inside me. I contract.)
No community, no party, no corporation, no caste.
Just to present myself: what I am, that.
Moreover: becoming. Be
any side of the dice.
Not a turn, but a twirl.
Be it! Whatever will be, will be. Prevailing
I comprehend it as my own sub-event.
I'd like to walk
on the "all bodies street" (Gyorgy Petri Boulevard),
beforehand I'd make
a good juicy beefstew,
just to eat a few more gristles and cartilages,
but first buy the ingredients for it
(calf, and maybe heart root, oxtail)
and then take a walk in this
(perhaps the last)
spring with you, with you, with you.
(Da capo el fine)
A rude planet this is
you live here
for fifty or for how many thousands of years
There is no room here for stupid sadness
Might makes Right is winning;
an old lurking pig, God is hiding.
Translated by Gábor Gyukics and Michael Castro