I really love you, believe me…

Sheltering-in-place #1


Attila Jozsef, (1905 -1937) Hungarian Poet

                       I really love you,
believe me.  It is something I inherited
from my mother.
She was a good woman.  After all,
she was the one who brought me
into this world.

                    We may compare life
to a shoe, or a laundromat,
or whatever.
Nonetheless, we love it
for reasons of our own.

                     Saviours, there are
enough of them to save the world

three times a day and still nobody knows
how to light a match.  I’ll have to give up
on them.

                     It would be nice
to buy tickets for a trip to the
self.  It must be somewhere inside us.

                    Every morning I wash 
my thoughts
in cold water.
That way they come out fresh as a daisy.

                     Diamonds can sprout
good warm songs,
if you plant them under your heart.

                    Some people will stay
pedestrians no matter what they ride,

horse, car or airplane.

                    Me, I just lie around
in the morning song of larks
and still make it over the abyss.

                    Let us carefully save our
true souls
like our best suit of clothes
to keep them spotless for the days of

(translated from Hungarian: John Batki)


While sheltering-in-place, locked down, or cocooning, I have taken to reading poems with breaks to look at the growing numbers.  As of yesterday there were more than a million who are suffering or had suffered from coronavirus and the United States has a quarter of those.

I have nothing worth saying about the barbarous behavior of our government but I thought sharing poems might be a comfort.

This poem comes from Carolyn Forche’s Against Forgetting, Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness.  Forche tells us that when Attila Jozsef’s first poems were published in 1922, he was tried for blasphemy. This poem was written near the end of his life.

I will be back with more poems in this time of plague.

San Francisco, 3 April 2020

8 thoughts on “I really love you, believe me…Sheltering-in-place #1

  1. Oh Carole, thank you for this loveliness. We need moments of breathing. Outside my window the red buds are just beginning to show color against the green grass and grey skies. My mom and I are safe thus far. I have been burning my vacation time to stay at home, but will likely return to work in the next two weeks. My mom is an assisted living facility 5 minutes from my house, but of course I have not seen her since February. Her residence has done a righteously good job in the face of the failure of the CDC and FDA, but they had around 19 positive staff and residents at one point, super scary. They were completely on their own to find tests and PPE, prevented by the CDC failure to be able to test, trace, isolate. Gah. I can only hope we can build something amazing from the ashes of this old order. I hope Alex is well and safe. Love to you, Heather



    • Oh, Heather, now nice to hear from you. I am glad your mother is safe and hope you both will stay so. I remember in the 1980s when I was just starting to be a journalist becoming friends with a hot-shot environmental journalist who’d won a UN prize for writing about how so much of the effect of disaster is human choice. That is what appalls me about this one.
      I moved back to the US because I didn’t want to sell Faith’s house with plans to commute between it and Ireland. My dog, who is almost 15, developed problems that meant she couldn’t fly so I’m more or less stuck. Alex came to live in the house last June. She is happier here. I think Ireland is a better fit for me and may go back some year or other. ….I hope I see you though, here or there.


  2. How lovely to hear from you, Carole. And to know that you are safe and sharing your thoughts, as always. Cocooning here in Wicklow, the word being used for those of us not supposed to leave home at all. So glad to have the garden and that it is springtime.


  3. Great to see you back in business Carole ! Stay safe and well these strange times , sending love, Cliona

    On Fri 3 Apr 2020 at 23:12, astrangeanddistantpeople wrote:

    > carolecraig posted: ” Attila Jozsef, (1905 -1937) Hungarian Poet I > really love you, believe me. It is something I inherited from my mother. > She was a good woman. After all, she was the one who brought me into this > world. ” >


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