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Thursday 02 February 2006
You'll find a nice, detailed post (with lots of good links) on the Hungarian poet Attila Jozsef (1905-1937) over on Chandrahas Choudhury excellent The Middle Stage blog. Jozsef, he tells us, "lived a short, sharp, incandescent life, wracked by poverty, loneliness, suffering and uncertainty, which he somehow managed to channel into verse of great beauty and poignancy."
In an autobiographical essay written in 1937, the year in which he took his own life by throwing himself under a freight train, Jozsef recounts all the things that he did to survive from day to day:
"War broke out when I was nine and our lot became progressively worse. I did my share of queuing. There were occasions when I joined a queue at the foodstore at nine o'clock in the evening and just when my turn was coming at half past eight the next morning they announced that all the cooking fat had gone. I helped my mother as best I could. I sold fresh water in the Világ Cinema, I stole firewood and coal from the Ferencváros goods station so that we should have something to burn. I made coloured paper windmills and sold them to children who were better off, I carried baskets and parcels in the Market Hall, and so on."
Quoting Jozsef's What Will Become Of Him, and also his late poem Lullaby, Chandrahas argues that, "[f]ew poets have written about poverty - its gnawing uncertainty, lack of hope, pathetic abjectness, raw despair - so powerfully."
Posted by Mark Thwaite
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