SONG OF THE COSMOS, by Attila József

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Song of the Cosmos,
by Attila József

Sonnet Wreath (Crown)

To the warm-hearted Poet,
to the generous Man,
who is my eternal Father and Brother,
with great love and with this dedication:

Your soul is some special miracle:
Warm rainbow in autumn night.
Such a thing has never been seen before:
Your soul is the grieved solace.

And as a young man his young bride
At nuptial welcomes with warm, faint kisses,
Your sad forty years through our hearts
Are already embraced by Eternal Life.

Jubilating, I bring my eternal Wreath
– My eighteen years are the most beutiful rose on it –
And worthy: take: I, beyond the blind melancholy,
Brother, I ascend to Christ!


I am a world by myself alone.
Because like for a germ, a drop is even the sea,
Strange, distant planet are all humans,
Who have only a desire, a worry, a dream.

And, alas, no one can live free from care!
And the strong also rotates, but like a cylinder,
Which smooths the road and rumbles, but does not dare
To cry crying: My side aches!

And because it is a bronze plate of our eternal-Order,
It attracts one into a hundred other imposed circles.
And only a few sad dwellers weep for this brass.

Just a few thoughts go crazy,
Why does my soul, the fresh humus of an orbiting planet bloom,
Though the wind of Space erods it.


My soul is the fresh humus of an orbiting planet,
Billion wild brown pains plough
It with a heavy plow and its pointed jumper
Pressing down deep, they wade through the ground.

Sown on steamy, warm furrows
Treasure spikes of corn nod
To the road, where tender, proud trees,
The trees of Beauty whisper through the grove.

Beneath them sits Cupid, who is always hungry,
His dark eyes and peasant mouth are bloody.
And on a sharp cliff he whets mortal knives.

A Pure-Feeling amble along there
And the steam of hot blood flies into the mists, where
Trees of Beauty stand full of scents.


Trees of Beauty stand full of scents,
Their foliage is perennial, winter couldn’t take it,
The flakes sing on their branches
And ravishing pomp grows in the winter grove,

That rich hand of God in ancient pinewood
Would not decorate for Christmas
So every branch, if at dawn the stern sun
Rises, as well, shining brighter.

Then two wicked Titan kids
– Their opened mouths turn red by merry –
Are making living, weird puppet of snow

And they snowball, while far there is work to do,
Where broken Socage is idling sweaty,
My noisy brain is a rumbling machine city.


My noisy brain is a rumbling machine city:
Its voice is that a huge cave-echo can give
For sound of a deep organ; and the host of thoughts
Keeps bending with invalid waist,

Like a decayed willow stoops sadly
On the rimed bank of a drifty, icy creek.
(Builders put bricks on bricks,
The miller’s belt swishes whizzing.)

And they all slave, why? they don’t even know
But one day they might get tired of this job,
In their sweaty laps madness conceives –

And – all at once! – streamed out from the dizzy
Workshop-prison to grimming anarchy,
They prowl apart drunken-happily.


They prowl apart drunken-happily,
Expelling the tyrant king, the Worry,
From beneath thoughts and tasty foliage
Their soul to eternal spring flies, rushes

Their souls, as if in the sun rays
Awakening baby laughs and to the happy,
Young mother’s ears wing-dissolved
Joy carols. But till then, there is work to do.

Only on a quiet midnight night,
As a dormant lovely warm girl,
Dream caresses their tormented hearts.

And as an aloe-flower, night-opening,
In the garden, kiss so lying around
The moon-lights on it, as if in a garden.


The moon-lights on it, as if in a garden
Heavy rain embraces on calm clods
Good blessing, and the earth breathes slack
A sultry, warm smell that spreads into the sky,

Or the sunray if it flits to dazed eyes,
So, that a hundred frenzy-colours start to celebrate merrily:
So sprinkle force or blind frenzy
Moon-lights on a human-planetary soul.

Anyhow: Eternal is the male-planet’s mate,
The Woman is eternal, her charm is eternal.
Her love often shines like a wildfire

And her beauty, light are cold and silly.
Yet, her blood ignites when in the evening
Wings of world-beetles quiver for a kiss.


Wings of world-beetles quiver for a kiss;
Great blood of the elephant thunders;
The wood-pigeon coos and bustles;
Man kisses nicer and bloodier.

The big, falling woman’s body fallen,
Drives mad into a writhing lust like eternal
Hungry for land, sweaty farmer the clods’
Black fat does, in greedy ecstasy.

The shouting ruptures my throat:
I – alas – know this will be the Man’s loss.
A fragrant evening once sounds futile –

The Child perishes in the mist prowling.
Who is rocked like Nile once Moses,
By my dark faith, sacred flowing stream.


My dark faith is a sacred, flowing stream.
It mixes soil and mud in its depths,
But washes to be virgin all ulcerated souls
His cold wave and murmurs seriously

And its voice is as a sad father-word:
– Come take a bath to me, come on,
Oh come then take a bath, souls!
And it runs as a fired, hungry dog.

But in the summer, it nurses the earth new strength,
In the dreary winter, icebergs break on it
And it pours out when the rolling mass of sorrow rushes.

What its shine faithfully regains from it,
Above it there is the planetary sun of Hungarians.
And the planet orbits like a tired brain in the evening.


And the planet orbits like a worn brain in the evening
Around a forever torturing huge question
And like a prisoner, who within his prison
Touches the wall crazy – maybe it is weak.

Oh why it cannot swing to infinity
Towards a better, nicer sun that heats
And as a hotel-bed it pours out embracing rays
Warmly, sending a word broad-minded.

Oh, alas for us that this is so incessantly,
Nothing starts for a nicer journey from here
And our day is as cold as a rigid autumn evening.

Maybe its light had been never warm!
If only it would warm up from my love:
As it cools, it falls down fallen into the night.


As it cools, it falls down fallen into the night –
Oh barely, but till, may it endure
My sun until even God – who,
Like a groom lurking for his bride,

It peeks around my open heart peery,
(Because I cannot drop pearl-words
And a sad flock-moan sheperd through His fold) –
He laughs a dawn because for great love

Every sun burns into One-Sun,
To bath warm every planet
In a fulfilled life their flames that blaze

Renewing. – God, terrible dreamer,
Winter snow melts from our hearts,
Like verses falling into oblivion.


Like verses falling into oblivion,
Great sorrows even fall to oblivion,
Into sick lap of the chattering Past
And their beauty shines back only so,

As to the southern landscape the distant alps.
Beggar’s ulcer doesn’t stink to brother-lord,
Rotten wounds soften into a gentle sorrow,
And blades of swords do into warm, beautiful words.

Plenty of warm milk for soft bread:
World Peace will be for a loving heart.
The perishing by hunger, spirit can fly

As a new-muscled eagle, toward the Secret-peak:
Why the Self? and toward the infinity,
If planets and worlds all grow cold.


If planets and worlds all grow cold,
All atoms fall back into the Ancient,
Every soul is set free to the Lord,
Fakir and rake reconcile there to one.

Mass murderer and Christ will be brothers,
Like scent and stink high up, over,
Moaning and laughter that frenzy wildly,
Above they gather into a soft scent-symphony.

Every world is part of the Immenseness,
God is either the One-Whole of souls.
And why-crows sit on my beauty-trees.

Why?, they moan and I don’t know.
And my planet continues to orbit on the sad way,
Putting on a cool light to truth, to Space.


Putting on a cool light to truth, to Space
(Because Truth: is Life and the Way,
The Space, the Immenseness and aches when roars
Its cool breeze, as if a dreary cloud is riding

A starting dragon ice storm and break out
Of its magic steed’s throat runaway
Icy wheezes and on the crouched
Wayfarer’s skin they become bitter)

The tiny planet is worth just as much
In its small circle like the Infinite Light,
At the immense infinity of the Pristine Spirit.

He who lives only to die, is
Equal to me; but that I am chosen,
My dreary planet blazes the most beautiful.


My dreary planet blazes the most beautiful,
Because no one makes roar light freer
To the night of deafness and in hungry prisoner
Roast meat and fragrant wines

Neither crutch his desire like after duty
When my flame resounds through his bars
Into his numb heart, as where there is North Pole
A sad but clean sundisk appears…

Let Peace-Noah come into my heart –
A great cleansing-deluge roar in me and
Though let a bitterness-volcano rumble,

Covering the sowings with lava curse,
I have a terrible, and I will have a nice right.
I am a world by myself alone.

Master Sonnet


I am a world by myself alone.
My soul is the fresh humus of an orbiting planet,
Trees of Beauty stand full of scents,
My noisy brain is a rumbling machine city.

They prowl apart drunken-happily,
The moon-lights on it, as if in a garden
Wings of world-beetles quiver for a kiss;
My dark faith is a sacred, flowing stream.

And the planet orbits like a worn brain in the evening
As it cools, it falls down fallen into the night –
Like verses falling into oblivion,

If planets and worlds all grow cold,
Putting on a cool light to truth, to Space
My dreary planet blazes the most beautiful.

  1. jan.-máj.
  2. Translated by J. W. Cassandra, 07/01. 2021.
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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.


  1. This is such a magnificent work of art by the poets. And kudos to you for translating the same for us readers who don’t understand Hungarian otherwise. The writer, it looks like, has completely poured her heart out in this poem.
    These poems also remind me of the work by T. S. Eliot. I sense some hint of J Alfred Prufrock and Wasteland in this master sonnet. There is a ‘constant dropping of question on the plate’. Or maybe it is just me who feels that way?

    1. Thank you your praise. The pleasure is mine to read it, since I wanted to familiarize Attila József’s poem. I read Eliot’s Thh Waste Land, and think so, that since he published it in 1922, our poet, Attila József wrote his The Song of the Cosmos in 1923, Eliot may have had an influence on his poem. But, the main difference is as for me, that till Eliot refers in his poem on classic literature and mythology (Sybil of Cumae, classic literature poems, etc), Attila József rather widens the horison of his poem to the Universe or Cosmos. He was a poet of broad range of vision, he knew more foreign languages, as well. In addition, we know that the Hungarian poet wanted to write a sonnet crown or sonnet wreath – and he wrote this one.

    1. Thank you. In our country, Hungary, we have many outstanding, even lofty poets and Attila Jozsef is one of my greatest favourite among them. I try in my free time to translate his poems into English. His poems are difficult to reproduce in a foreign language: either it will be failed as a poem, or its message is lost. The same can be said of all our good poets. Of course, I also look elsewhere around the world: I recently finished refining my translation on the entire Gitanjali by R. Tagore that I translated from English not Bengali into Hungarian, because I really like it. First of all for myself and for my daughters. What is more, I felt that the translations of Gitanjali available here, “do step into the same river” (freely after Heraclitus): they can’t really grasp the nuances of meaning I feel behind the English text. These poets are my favourites. But I also like other poets. 🙂

      I think, reading my long commentary, you can imagine, how much it was difficult to translate The Song of the Cosmos. 🙂 It took about 2 weeks. And I add a thought yet: as far as I’ll have time for it, I’ll translate yet more Hungarian poets into English and would like to share their works to show them for the world. I feel it as a mission for myself. And I made my new website for my writings, as well. I work on them a lot. You can find it in my Instagram profile. 🙂

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