Today, May 5th, we celebrate the 100th birthday of
great Hungarian poet
and a great poet of the Holocaust. His last poem, in which he predicts his imminent death,
('Picture Postcards' in Serbo-Croat), written while on a death-march, is one of the true Holocaust poems. Remarkably it was discovered sewn into his clothing and discovered on him nearly two years after his murder in 1944. He is a major focus of any study
on Holocaust literature.
Yet He wrote some of the most sensous poems in any language, my favourite being Bájoló
(The Charm), beatifully sung (in Hungarian) by the another icon of Hungarian culture,
(YouTube link). There is the inevitable
article on him, not to mention at least two Facebook groups. He has been the subject of several
Hungarian readers have the ever reliable
Hungarian Electronic Library
to access his poetry, English readers should head for their favourite bookshop, electronic or otherwise, and purchase
, a bi-lingual edition of his major poems. We can also turn to
Lóránt Czigány's epic
A History Of Hungarian Literature
for deeper understanding of Radnóti's genius.
And even if you can't understand a word of Hungarian listen to the great, yet tragic, Latinovits, read Radnóti's homage to his homeland, (written even after it betrayed him), Nem tudhatom/I Know Not What
(YouTube link) and understand the power of the poem to transcend the everyday.