And yet. I may, in vain, try one more time. For strength and inner strains compel me on. Your dew-dropped eyes will bind to mine In sorrow ; be my perfect cockatrice. If you had cursed me madly, as you do, Threats for the breadknife or the bodkin-blade, I would be gone by now, my back bent down In howls of laughter — debts unpaid. And yet you make the dirty bomb From culpatory ducts of tears, At which my futile spears are thrown. Please take me at my word: I tell you that I am your serf, and fall Back on your mortal breast.
Kaj tamen. Vane ja, se mi por risko Kaj streĉo de la fortoj min instigas, Okuloj viaj larmaj min alligas, Mia malĝoja, bela bazilisko. Se krius kaj malbenus vi delire, Minacus per ponardo kaj veneno, Mi ridus, kaj mi irus for sen ĝeno, Facile, gaje, fajfe, ŝultrotire. Sed ho, teruran havas vi armilon: En la okul' akuzan larmobrilon: Jen, kontraŭ kio vane mi batalas. — Pardonu min, jen via sklav' katena Mi krias, kaj al via sin' venena, Kiel en propran tombon, mi refalas.
I chose to translate this poem both for its intrinsic value and for its rarity value, coming as it does from Esperanto. I was not aiming to make political points about European or global unity in translating from this language, though others are certainly welcome to bring those, and other, perspectives to their readings. Esperanto has never really been considered a literary language: it wasn’t intended as such by its creator, Ludwik Zamenhof, who wanted a functional, auxiliary language to cross traditional linguistic boundaries — in part, a Latin for the 19th century and beyond, a more democratic Latin. With its simple grammar and lexicon, it’s possible to argue that the language doesn’t lend itself instinctively to literature, or, more pompously, to high art. However, the poet was an Hungarian Esperantist (though a doctor by day) who devoted himself to the task of forming a unique, native Esperanto culture. He was clearly an artist.
The poem comes from a larger sequence (hence the Roman numerals in its
This translation was originally written for entry into a competition, hence the short accompanying commentary.