Mene, tekel...

by Frigyes Karinthy

Translated from the Hungarian by Thomas Cooper

Hello! Frigyes Karinthy here, poet from the 20th century!

Listen closely, then repeat after me,
so you’ll remember I’ll say it in rhyme,
I’ll pester and hound you incessantly:
You’re a fool to be a man in this time
on this earth, which with its false scales will weigh
and cheat you tomorrow like yesterday.
At noon a host of temptations torment,
at night apparitions wail and lament.
They bewailed Christ’s crucifixion and then
the killer was made a hero again.
The man drank blood and the woman ate bone,
outside by the storefront the poet moaned.
On the dead they bestowed silk, a brocade,
the living, in tatters, vomited blood.
They strewed flowers on the pit of the grave,
the living shivered outside in the mud.
The oaths they swore on the tomb resounded,
in the corner the living feebly cried.
The child stood, eyes wide open, dumbfounded,
the elderly cowardly slinked aside,
but the vile knave of a disciple spat
in his master’s eye, the base, shameless rat.
On the waters ships in flames hurried by,
the winds lifted the whores’ skirt to the sky,
but the most wondrous, shining beautifully,
rotted like a dog on a pile of debris.
So wringing my hands, in tears I implore,
prepare, the scales will be set right once more.
So listen, in your heart put this away -
If you must you’ll know the meaning someday.
 —Whether you understand or not — MENE, TEKEL,
it speaks to and for you, so remember it well,
The words of my song, once sung in the dark,
will shine like a flame on the wall, so mark,
they are grim words today, yet they live on,
and still will be here long after I’m gone.
Still here long after I’m gone.

Frigyes & Ferenc Karinthy in English

Frigyes (Frederiko) Karinthy (1887-1938) en Esperanto

Futurology, Science Fiction, Utopia, and Alienation
in the Work of Imre Madách, György Lukács, and Other Hungarian Writers:
Select Bibliography

Alireteje: Offsite:

Frigyes Karinthy @ Ĝirafo

Frigyes Karinthy @ 50 watts

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Uploaded 21 May 2021

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