Author's page

László NAGY
( 1925 - 1978 )

» Cease, Pain (1946)
» Skirt of Pearls (1953)
» Eternal Hymn (1965)

Biography

1925 born in Felsőiszkáz (Veszprém County)
1946-1949 studies Arts and Design, then Literature, Languages and Philosophy in Budapest
1949-1951 Writer`s Grant to Bulgaria; translates Bulgarian poetry
1952 marries the poet Margit Szécsi
1953 son is born
1968 receives the prize of the poetry festival in Macedonia (???)
1978 dies in Budapest

Major Prizes:
1950, 1953, 1955 Attila József Prize, 1966 Kossuth Prize, 1976 International Botev Prize for translation

Cease, Pain
1946

Tűnj el fájás (Cease, Pain) 1946 László Nagy started as a populist poet and in his early youth was a believer in socialist ideology, but was soon disappointed by the bitter realities of the period and his love of truth proved to be stronger than his youthful enthusiasm. (Both in this respect and in his metaphorical style he shows many parallels with András Sütő, whose works he has surely influenced.) Nagy later rewrote his early poetry, but not with the hope of trying to forget his past; he was led by a purely aesthetic aim, and thus some of the early poems are movingly beautiful, especially those which are about his personal experiences as a peasant boy. He is a visionary of great intensity, one of the most often quoted and recited modern poets. His oeuvre comprises more than 400 poems and many volumes of translations.

Skirt of Pearls
1953

Gyöngyszoknya (Skirt of Pearls) 1953 It was in the same period that he began to develop his own mythology. Realising that he could not be a populist leader, he rather became a visionary poet, creating unexpected metaphors and fascinating rhythms, using words as some magical incantation. "I intend to be the real hero of the word. I believe in the power of words," he said in one of his interviews. He was raised in an almost pagan atmosphere of folk songs and ballads, the influence of which is very strong in his poems. In his private mythology hailstorm appears as both a cosmic catastrophe and a crazy woman with a skirt of pearls (Gyöngyszoknya, 1953: Skirt of Pearls), his father and mother as fire and flower (Rege a tűzről és a jácintról, 1956: The Ballad of the Fire and the Hyacinth), and the freezing terror of winter and the Inferno of dead animals is juxtaposed by a girl bathing in the snow and the elemental powers of motherhood.

Eternal Hymn
1965

Himnusz minden időben (Eternal Hymn) 1965 His first collection of selected poems, Deres majális (1957, Frost in May) and his new volume of poetry, Himnusz minden időben (1965 Eternal Hymn) contain his most beautiful love poems, written to his wife in her illness. Language and rhythm here become vehicles for cosmic powers, private pain is evoked as a universal vision and the eternal glorification of love and of the alliance of two poets. The most well-known poem of this period is "Ki viszi át a szerelmet" (Who’ll Ferry Love to the Yonder Shore), a powerful confession about the ethical responsibility of the poet; the poem was later engraved onto László Nagy’s grave. Love and poetical responsibility is just as movingly stated in his two long poems of love, "A forró szél imádata" (1963, Love of the Scorched Wind) and "Mennyegző" (1964), works of rare complexity, characterised by a richness of vocabulary and an almost archaic love of romantic beauty and truth, while in the poems of Versben bujdosó (1973, Exile in Poetry) the artist has to face the fact that he has to continue to the end even if he is an outcast, a seemingly useless member of (socialist) society. László Nagy was an extremely talented prose writer and graphic artist, an experimenter with poetic forms (writing prose poems, visual poems and poetic memoirs). His last volume of poems and rhythmical, almost surrealistic prose, bearing the prophetic title Jönnek a harangok értem (1978, Bells are Coming to Take Me) were published a few months after his death.

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