Hungarian poetry: Petőfi Sándor


Petőfi Sándor, Hungary’s national poet, composed verses on a variety of popular subjects early in his career. Most have a sing-song, folk rhythm and feel. Gallant and elegant phrases stand alongside more familiar terms. To know his poetry is to understand a little better the motivations of a Hungarian.

Below is my translation of one of my favorite Petőfi poems, “Esik, esik, esik,” written in 1844 in Debrecen. It’s certainly not one of his most famous pieces, but it offers a succinct summary of his style in a few clever, youthful stanzas. I did my best to maintain the lyrical qualities of the original. Try reading it aloud—Hungarian is a language which fully activates the mouth, tongue, and throat to produce the proper sounds. Do you catch what I did with the first line to evoke that feeling?



Drip, drip, drips:
A sweet rain of kisses
Falls down
To my lips.

Along with the drizzle,
Lightning hits;
Your eyes, my dear,
Strike my wits.

Behind us, behind us,
Thunder rumbling;
Farewell, my dear,
‘Tis your father coming.



One thought on “Hungarian poetry: Petőfi Sándor

  1. Pingback: Spotlight on: Charles Simonyi | translation, untangled

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