Weöres Sándor: Majomország (Monkeyland)

Weöres (1913 – 1989) was not only a legend in a nation of great poets, but was also one of the finest and most versatile poets in any language in the twentieth century. His range was unbelieveable: he wrote abstract sound-poems, brief lyrics, a series of enormous and weighty compositions he called his Symphonies, humorous verse, plays, oratorios, novels which were themselves linguistic experiments… and the Hungarian Etudes, a book of verses for children, which has become a beloved part of his country’s cultural heritage.

I love this poem, because it moves from benign nonsense to something much more serious before the reader has had a chance to realize what’s happening. In this translation, I have tried my best to mimic the vigorous word-play of the original. Evidently I succeeded: my translation was selected by Londin’s Hungarian Cultural Centre for inclusion in the publication ZOO-TOPIA (2012), published in conjunction with the Royal College of Art.

 

Monkeyland

Hey! for distant Monkeyland,
monkeybread a-plenty there,
from monkeywindow monkeybars
the wind twangs out a monkey-air.

In monkeyfield and monkeysquare
monkeyheroes draw their swords,
hear the monkeymiserable
moaning in their monkeywards.

Monkeyteacher makes Monquita
learn her monkeylessons well,
monkeymalefactor rages
in his monkeyprison cell.

In monkeymanufacturies
much monkeymayonnaise you’ll find,
limn in hymn the limitless
illimitable monkeymind.

Monkeymonarch spouts decrees
from monkeypole in Monkeynese,
monkeyheaven waits for those
eternal monkeyhell for these.

Macacque, gorilla, chimpanzee,
orangutan and rhesus, too,
all read their daily monkeynews
when the monkeydinner’s through.

In memory of monkeymeal
the outhouse rings with monkeyfarts,
monkeysoldiers on maneuvers,
Left face! Right face! Forward march!

Monstrous monkeymilitary
mania in every face,
Monkey clutching monkeygun,
The world, it is the monkey’s place.

— Sándor Weöres
Fordította: Will T. Laughlin

Majomország

Hej de messze majomország,
ott terem majomkenyér,
majomablak majomrácsán
majomnótát ráz a szél.

Majomtéren, majomréten
majomhősök küzdenek,
majomszanatáriumban
sírnak majombetegek.

Majomtanártól majomlány
majomábécét tanul,
gaz majom a majombörtönt
rúgja irgalmatlanul.

Megépül a majommalom,
lesz sok majommajonéz,
győzve győz a győzhetetlen
győzedelmes majomész.

Majompóznán majomkirály
majomnyelven szónokol,
egyiké majommennyország
másiké majompokol.

Makákó, gorilla, csimpánz,
pávián, orángután,
mind majomújságot olvas
majomvacsora után.

Majomvacsoraemléktől
zúg a majomreterát,
majombakák menetelnek,
jobbra át és balra át.

Rémületes majomarcot
vágnak majomkatonák,
majomkézben majomfegyver,
a majmoké a világ.

— Weöres Sándor


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