Poetry at the Post-Budapest: Meditations on Marcus Aurelius

“Marcus Aurelius Rose”

From the five good emperors
I have learned that there were five good emperors,

A trip to Aquincum, the ruins of an ancient city in Budapest, can lead one to other places. For me, the road circled back Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor who perhaps wrote a part of his book Meditations at Aquincum

“Whatever happens to you has been waiting to happen since the beginning of time. The twining strands of fate wove both of them together: your own existence and the things that happen to you.” (V. 8, trans. Gregory Hays)

“Soon you’ll be ashes or bones. A mere name at most—and even that is just a sound, an echo. The things we want in life are empty, stale, trivial” (V. 33, trans. Gregory Hays)

Remnants of antiquity remind me of the brevity of life. Breathe it in …hold it. And, then read this lovely poem by Lisa Jarnot.

From the window blinds, from the sun decayed,
from the heart, a brimming record braised and turned

Poetry at the Post-Budapest: Textiles, Connections & Natalia Toledo

“Huipil” by Natalia Toledo, as translated into English by Claire Sullivan

My skin bursts with the flowers etched upon my dress.

Anyone who has traveled to Mexico has seen a huipil, a traditional garment decorated by hand-woven designs, embroidery, ribbons or lace.

in Hungary there are beautiful embroidered blouses; many of the designs remind me of the huipeles or of Mexico. Some, depending on the region, are more decorated than others.

I am going to the fiestas to dance…

Photo courtesy of Comcast

There is one that is white with a few simple flowers at the collar that evoke the Mayan dress of the Yucatan. It causes one to consider the origins of the Mayas, their proposed Asian connection.

I don’t know anything about such matters except that when I try to decipher the indigenous languages of Mexico or Hungarian, I am totally confused.

Ruyadxie’ lii sica ruyadxi guragu’ guibá’,
ribaque chaahue’ lii ndaani’ guiña candanaxhi guiriziña

Poetry at the Post-Budapest: The Herend Royal Garden & Marianne Moore

“Nine Nectarines and Other Porcelain” by Marianne Moore

through slender crescent leaves
of green or blue—or both

Stopping for afternoon tea at The Four Seasons Hotel on a steamy Budapest afternoon, I found coolness and calm in the restored 1906 art nouveau Gresham Palace. I also found porcelain.

The Herend Porcelain Manufactory was founded in 1826 and has been producing hand painted pottery pieces ever since.

Tea was served on porcelain in “The Royal Garden Pattern. ” This is a modern age variation of the Victoria pattern with a focus on the Peony. Purple is the traditional color for royalty and the tea was a nod to the regal after an afternoon enmeshed in the terrors of the Nazi and Communist years.

Sadly, as presented in Marianne Mooore’s hauntingly lovely poem “Nine Nectarines and Other Porcelain,” the peony like the “red/cheeked peach cannot aid the dead.”

Poetry at the Post-In Transit: Shelling Beans While Flying

A Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wiesław Myśliwski, as translated by Bill Johnston
Archipelago Books, 2013

When people can be divided by something the always will be.
It doesn’t have to be a river

As I waited for my flight across the Atlantic Ocean, I considered borders-those divisions that exist inside and out There’s the ocean, the language & the fear of crossing.

It’s the tension between wanting to go and wanting to stay.

…he invited me to at least come for the mushroom picking.

polish 2

But if you do not make the journey, you may not taste the pappardelle, the butter cream, the chanterelles.

But don’t give up, Never give up. It doesn’t always repay people, but maybe with you it will.

Whatever it is you love, you want, don’t give up.

Poetry at the Post, Day 15: Onward to Greece! —and a poem by Katerina Iliopouolou

On weakened legs I walked around the town the whole day. I took photographs” by Katerina Iliopoulou, as translated by John O’Kane

Ia Santorini-2009- Photo courtesy of Simm 1CC BY-SA 3.0
Ia Santorini-2009-
Photo courtesy of Simm 1CC BY-SA 3.0

The Hungarian photographer André Kertész with his walking (during thirty years) wore out the network of streets of at least three cities. Eighty-five now, confined (by grief) to his apartment…

Katerina Iliopoulou is a poet, artist and translator, who lives and works in Athens.

What I like this poem is the convergence of so many places that have personal meaning. The stream of images leading to an unexpected ending is quite wonderful too.

In Paris he photographed himself double closing his eyes and a crumpled half-opened white door reflecting in the mirror.

You can read more about Iliopoulou and the entire poem here: http://iliopoulou.wordpress.com/bio/

Andre Kertesz (1894 - 1985)  Circus, Budapest, 19 May 1920 Denver Art Museum #lateantiquitystudiesbudapest2014
Andre Kertesz (1894 – 1985)
Circus, Budapest, 19 May 1920
Denver Art Museum

Poetry at the Post, Day 11: “Contempt” by Elfriede Jelinek

“Contempt” by Elfriede Jelinek, as translated by Michael Hoffman

Panoramic on the Alps Austria 3 July 2009 Photo courtesy of Friedrich Böhringer  under CC Share Alike 2.5 License
Panoramic on the Alps
3 July 2009
Photo courtesy of Friedrich Böhringer under CC Share Alike 2.5 License

my puppet-strings are the
sweet decaying lamps I flutter around.

Two of my besties from Spalding University will meet me in Budapest later this month. We’ll be traveling on to Vienna for a mini trip before we meet up with the rest of our program in Prague. In celebration of our upcoming trip—and out MFA graduation in Berlin, I decided to read an Austrian poet this morning. #lateantiquitystudiesbudapest2014 #threemfagradsonthetraintowien

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004, Jelinek is a controversial writer, mainly due to her political activism, strong feminist stance, & affiliation with the Communist Party—all of which are important to her work. As Jelinek suffers from agoraphobia, she did not attend the Nobel Prize award ceremony but instead sent this video.


I’m not sure yet what I think about this poem. My take away from this morning’s reading is this:

your stupid silence I will just
toss up in the air.

For me, these words are powerful. I think they suggest that we should have contempt for those who refuse to speak out against injustice and oppression. Im reminded of the importance of “voice” and standing up when the situation demands it. Not always easy.

I do wonder if I would be able to do so in a situation where my speaking out could lead to imprisonment,torture, or worse. I’m afraid I would not. Instead, I will try harder to chip away at any infractions of intolerance and discrimination that I encounter.

I never understood age discrimination until I got older—and, believe me, it is rampant. I refuse to allow age to define me and I speak up whenever I can.

“Contempt,”however, does make me curious to read more of Jelinek’s work. Here’s the full poem.


June 2, 2014
June 2, 2014

Poetry at the Post, Day 10: One-Act Play by Ferenc Molnar

A Matter of Husbands by Ferenc Molnar (1878-1952), as translated by Benjamin Glazer

FAMOUS ACTRESS: You wished to see me?
EARNEST YOUNG WOMAN: [She gulps emotionally] Yes.
FAMOUS ACTRESS: What can I do for you?
EARNEST YOUNG WOMAN: [Extends her arms in a beseeching gesture] Give me back my husband!
FAMOUS ACTRESS: Give you back your husband!

June 1, 2014
June 1, 2014

For June first day, I decided to mix it up and select a one-act play. I’ve been googling around looking up everything Hungarian in preparation for my upcoming trip to Budapest and discovered Ferenc Molnar. #lateantiquitystudiesbudapest2014

You can read the entire one-act play here: http://www.one-act-plays.com/comedies/matter_of_husbands.html

Ference Molnar photo courtesy of Carl Van Vechten
Ference Molnar
photo courtesy of Carl Van Vechten

Born in Budapest, Molnar emigrated to the United States during World War II. His most popular play is Liliom, which was letter adapted into the musical Carousel.

For some Sunday morning inspiration, here is “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel a la Celtic Woman.

I read the first part of A Matter of Husbands to the horse this morning. He seemed to like it.

Reading Molnar to my neighbor
Reading Molnar to my neighbor