Sunday, 3 February 2013

Jonah’s Prayer - Mihaly Babits

Words have become unfaithful things to me,
or else am I an overflowing sea,
goalless and hesitant, without a shore.
Vain words, articulated once before,
I carry like dikes, or signposts made of wood,
torn hedges carried by a straying flood.
Oh if the Master only would provide
a bed for my brook’s current and thus guide
my steps on sheltered pathways toward the sea;
if only He would carve a rhyme for me,
a ready-made rhyme, I would avail myself,
for prosody, of the Bible on my shelf,
so that like Jonah, lazy servitor
of God, we hid from Him and later bore
not three brief days or months of agonies,
but three long years of even centuries,
when he went down into the living Fish,
in dark hot torments more than he would wish,
I too, before I disappear, might find
in an eternal Whale whose eyes are blind
my old accustomed voice, my words arrayed
in faultless battle order; as He made
His whispers clear, with all my poor throat’s might
I could speak out, unwearied till the night,
so long as Heaven and Nineveh comply
with my desire to speak and not to die.
Mihaly Babits (1883 - 1941) Hungary

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