Order and Dreams
The context of the poem “A Breath of Air!”
01
Art in the Age of Populist Regimes
02
Disputes and Fronts on the Left
03
Anti-Colonialism and Self-Representation
04
The Surrealist Revolution and the Dimensionist Manifesto
05
Hungary around the time of “A Breath of Air!”
Who can forbid my telling what hurt me / on the way home? / Soft darkness was just settling on the grass, / a velvet drizzle, / and under my feet the brittle leaves / tossed sleeplessly and moaned / like beaten children. // Stealthy shrubs were squatting in a circle / on the city’s outskirts. / The autumn wind cautiously stumbled among them. / The cool moist soil / looked with suspicion at streetlamps; / a wild duck woke clucking in a pond / as I walked by. // I was thinking, anyone could attack me / in that lonely place. / Suddenly a man appeared, / but walked on. / I watched him go. He could have robbed me, / since I wasn’t in the mood for self-defense. / I felt crippled. // They can tap all my telephone calls / (when, why, to whom.) / They have a file on my dreams and plans / and on those who read them. / And who knows when they’ll find / sufficient reason to dig up the files / that violate my rights. // In this country, fragile villages / – where my mother was born – / have fallen from the tree of living rights / like these leaves / and when a full-grown misery treads on them / a small noise reports their misfortune / as they’re crushed alive. // This is not the order I dreamed of. My soul / is not at home here / in a world where the insidious / vegetate easier, / among people who dread to choose / and tell lies with averted eyes / and feast when someone dies. // This is not how I imagined order. / Even though / I was beaten as a small child, mostly / for no reason, / I would have jumped at a single kind word. / I knew my mother and my kin were far, / these people were strangers. // Now I have grown up. There is more foreign / matter in my teeth, / more death in my heart. But I still have rights / until I fall apart / into dust and soul, and now that I’ve grown up / my skin is not so precious that I should put up / with the loss of my freedom. // My leader is in my heart. We are / men, not beasts, / we have minds. While our hearts ripen desires, / they cannot be kept in files. / Come, freedom! Give birth to a new order, / teach me with good words and let me play, / your beautiful serene son.
Who can forbid my telling what hurt me / on the way home? / Soft darkness was just settling on the grass, / a velvet drizzle, / and under my feet the brittle leaves / tossed sleeplessly and moaned / like beaten children. // Stealthy shrubs were squatting in a circle / on the city’s outskirts. / The autumn wind cautiously stumbled among them. / The cool moist soil / looked with suspicion at streetlamps; / a wild duck woke clucking in a pond / as I walked by. // I was thinking, anyone could attack me / in that lonely place. / Suddenly a man appeared, / but walked on. / I watched him go. He could have robbed me, / since I wasn’t in the mood for self-defense. / I felt crippled. // They can tap all my telephone calls / (when, why, to whom.) / They have a file on my dreams and plans / and on those who read them. / And who knows when they’ll find / sufficient reason to dig up the files / that violate my rights. // In this country, fragile villages / – where my mother was born – / have fallen from the tree of living rights / like these leaves / and when a full-grown misery treads on them / a small noise reports their misfortune / as they’re crushed alive. // This is not the order I dreamed of. My soul / is not at home here / in a world where the insidious / vegetate easier, / among people who dread to choose / and tell lies with averted eyes / and feast when someone dies. // This is not how I imagined order. / Even though / I was beaten as a small child, mostly / for no reason, / I would have jumped at a single kind word. / I knew my mother and my kin were far, / these people were strangers. // Now I have grown up. There is more foreign / matter in my teeth, / more death in my heart. But I still have rights / until I fall apart / into dust and soul, and now that I’ve grown up / my skin is not so precious that I should put up / with the loss of my freedom. // My leader is in my heart. We are / men, not beasts, / we have minds. While our hearts ripen desires, / they cannot be kept in files. / Come, freedom! Give birth to a new order, / teach me with good words and let me play, / your beautiful serene son.