Jonah’s Prayer, by Mihály Babits

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Words have become unfaithful to me,
or did I became as the overflowing creek
so hesitant, aimless, shoreless
and I carry my many old, vain words
like the stray flood carries torn
dikes, dams and signposts made of wood.
Oh, if only the Lord would give
a bed for the stream of my creek,
to carry in safe ways to the sea, if only
to corner of my poems would be carved rhyme from Him,
ready-made, that stands here on my shelf,
my prosody would be His holy Bible,
for who as Jonah, His idle slave, of old,
hiding, later as Jonah in the Fish,
I descended to darkness of vivid,
dumb and hot torments, not for
three days, but for three months,
for three years or centuries, to find,
before I disappear in the mouth
of a blinder and eternal Whale for ever,
the old voice, and my words standing
in perfect battle order, as He whispers,
I might speak intrepidly, as my bad larynx can tell,
and I might not be weary of it till evening,
or, till the lordship of Heaven and Niniveh complies
with me to speak and not to die.

1939, by Mihály Babits

Translated by J. W. Cassandra, 25th Febr. 2022.

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J. W. Cassandra

About the Author: J. W. Cassandra

I’m a teacher and a registered author either, at Artisjus as a writer and a poet in Hungary. I love forests, butterflies, flowers.

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