On the Danube (A Dunán)

a poem by Sándor Petőfi, translated by Joe Váradi

On the Danube

Raging storms and rushing boats, oh River
Countless clefts to your bosom deliver!

And how deep the wound, and how long the rift!
More so than what passions on hearts inflict.

But after the boats depart, and the storms quell:
The gashes heal, once again all is well.

Yet once the human heart a crack sustains:
No ointment will seal the wound, mend the pains.

Dedicated to Trisha Traughber

Sándor Petőfi is one of Hungary’s great national poets, believed to have been killed in action in the Hungarian Revolution of 1848–9 against the Austrian monarchy, at the age of 26.

My earlier translations of his work:

the original:

A Dunán

Folyam, kebled hányszor repeszti meg
Hajó futása s dúló fergeteg!

S a seb mi hosszu és a seb mi mély!
Minőt a szíven nem vág szenvedély.

Mégis, ha elmegy fergeteg s hajó:
A seb begyógyul, s minden újra jó.

S az emberszív ha egyszer megreped:
Nincs balzsam, mely hegessze a sebet.

Editor of No Crime in Rhymin' and Language Lab | the Woke Bloke ..."come for the sarcasm, stay for my soft side"

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