Memories of Snow

Sandor Csoori

Memories of Snow


As soon as I raised the first shade in the living room this morning the words “memories of snow “ came into my mind the way the melody of a song catches one’s  brain and refuses to leave. I went to my bookshelf and searched the familiar chaos (I can always lay my hands on what I want…) for Sandor Csoori’s book of poems, MEMORIES OF SNOW. I couldn’t find it. But I did find his selected poems translated by Len Roberts.

Sandor Csoori. How was I to know that the small, intense man standing in front of me, the man with the mouth line a vertical line and eyes as hypnotic as Houdini’s, was

Hungary’s foremost poet? In the late l980’s things like that happened to me. As the writers from Eastern Europe came to us at PEN, free at last to travel, we welcomed them with panels and discussions, platters of pastrami and roast beef, cases of wine and stacks of boxes filled with Entenmann’s cakes. They were hungry, they were thirsty for food and conversation and books and information.

Another thing I didn’t know about Csoori was that he had been forced to shovel both the bodies of humans and animals when, as a war-shocked 15 year-old, he returned to his village in 1945. He then endured a 45 year Communist clamp-down of his country. Nevertheless, I sensed a deeply alive romantic nature behind his eyes when we met.

At the time I was too busy buying cakes and cases of wine to read his poems. Now, today, I watch the Hudson River, as ice floes like splattered polka-dots all sliding south along a roiling stew the color of iron, and as snow flies around my house, I have the time to read some poems. “My Winter Kingdom,” is worth several re-reads during the stormy day.

My Winter Kingdom

I cannot run on ten paths,

I cannot die ten deaths,

Well, then, I’ll wait for that special one

Which sinks me to the depths.

Winter, my kingdom,

is a snowflake kingdom only;

my departing on a hundred paths:

a lone departure only.

Sandor Csoori

Translated by Len Roberts and Laszlo Vertes

Later, as I survey the snow heaps, my imagination lets me have a moment with my iris bulbs: they sizzle and bump, buried deep inside the white covered black earth…Flambeau, Sunset Cymbal, Little Mary Sunshine.

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