János Pilinszky (1921-81) is one of the great European poets of an extraordinary generation: that of Paul Celan, Zbigniew Herbert and Yves Bonnefoy. Like them he grew up to a world physically and morally devastated by the Second World War and the Holocaust.
Ted Hughes and János Csokits translated Pilinszky’s work. Hughes described his achievements and stature thus: ‘His ‘greatness’ … is not a greatness of imaginative and linguistic abundance. It has more to do with some form of spiritual distinction. The weight and unusual temper of his imagination and language derive from this.’
Clive Wilmer translates from Hungarian in collaboration with George Gömöri, whom he first met in 1971. A Hungarian poet himself, George Gömöri belongs to the generation that felt Pilinszky’s influence. Over the past forty years Gömöri and Wilmer have translated work by more than twenty poets, and introduced many British readers to the poems of Miklós Radnóti and György Petri.
Many of the poems here are taken from his second book, Harmadnapon, published in 1959.
Praise for Clive Wilmer and George Gömöri
“Radnóti has emerged as the major poetic voice to record the civilian experience of World War II in occupied Europe. He is one of the very greatest poets of the twentieth century, and Clive Wilmer and George Gömöri’s versions are by far the best that exist in English.”
Dick Davis on Radnóti’s Forced March
“Petri has been fortunate in having Wilmer and Gömöri as translators, and we are even more fortunate in having his poetry in English. Very little Hungarian poetry has … been as convincingly translated as the two Petri collections Eternal Monday and Night Song of the Personal Shadow.”
August Kleinzahler on Petri’s Eternal Monday