Archive for February 17th, 2020

Monday, 17 February 2020

To Hope by Mihály Csokonai Vitéz

To mortal eyes, you, Hope, do seem
a form divinely sweet;
but eyes of gods can pierce the dream
and see your blind deceit.
Unhappy men in times of ill
create you for their easing;
and as their Guardian Angel still
they worship without ceasing.
Why do you flatter me with praise?
Why do you then deride me?
Why in my bosom do you raise
a dubious heart to chide me?
Stay far and fair beyond my reach,
as first my soul you greeted!
I had depended on your speech,
but you have ever cheated.

With jonquil and with daffodil
you planted all my garden,
and introduced a chattering rill
to be my orchard’s warden;
you did bestrew my laughing spring
with many a thousand flowers,
the scents of Heaven did you fling
to perfume all its hours;
my thoughts, like bees, found morning sweet
‘mid garden plots and closes,
and hovered ’round in fragrant heat
above my heavy roses.
One hope possessed my soul apart,
one radiant prospect joyed me,
my garden lay in Lilla’s heart
its wonders never cloyed me.

But, ah, the roses of my ease
Have withered quite away;
my sparkling brook and shady trees
are dead and dry today.
The springtime of my happiness
is winter now instead;
my dreams are gone beyond redress,
my fairy world has fled.
Ah, would you leave me but my lass,
the Lilla of my passion,
I’d let all sad complaining pass
nor mourn in any fashion.
Within her arms I could forget
misfortune, grief, and pain;
no wreath of pearl could match my girl
were she with me again!

Depart from me, O cruel Hope!
Depart and come no more;
for blinded by your power I grope
along a bitter shore.
My strength has failed, for I am riven
by all my doubt and dearth;
my tired spirit longs for Heaven
my body yearns for earth.
I see the meadows overcome
with dark consuming blight;
the vocal grove today is dumb;
the sun gives place to night.
I cannot tune this trill of mine!
My thoughts are all askew!
Ah, heart! Ah, hope! Ah, Lilla mine!
May God remember you!


Date: 1803 (original in Hungarian); 1947 (translation in English)

By: Mihály Csokonai Vitéz (1895-1977)

Translated by: Watson Kirkconnell (1895-1977)