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Clouded Sky Paperback – August 1, 2003
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He views Spain of 1937 from Paris as:
. . . black-winged war, whipping us,
Terror flies across the border.
No one sows, no one reaps on the other side.
Grapes aren't picked any more. ("Spain, Spain," 1937)
Radnoti, Hungarian Jew who opposed the Nazi-inspired Horthy regime, was sent to forced labor camps. Many poems in Clouded Sky were smuggled out of the camps by surviving prisoners. Others (such as the following) were discoverd on postcards in his pockets when his body was exhumed from a mass grave in 1946:
From Bulgaria the huge wild pulse of artillery.
It beats on the mountain ridge, then hesitates and falls.
Men, animals, wagons and thoughts. They are swelling.
The road whinnies and rears up. The sky gallops. ("Postcard 1," 1944)
Steven Polgar, Stephen Berg, and S.J. Marks have drawn wide praise for their translations from the Hungarian. That poetry can exist under such conditions is remarkable. Radnoti describes scenes of death and horror in his final days that remind us of the bloodiest parts of the Iliad and the Aeneid.
Yet among all the horrors are memories of coffee houses and of Paris where "at the intersection of the Boulevard St. Michel //and the Rue Cujas, the sidewalk slopes a little," as well as reflections of sensuous love and memories of great light:
Flowers pacing in my memories,
I stand in the flapping rain.
An army of women and children walks down the road.
Smoke in the sky,
A cloud's ripple. It's lifting. Light. Silver. ("In My Memories," 1940)