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This poem touches me more and more, as my ancestors come to mind more and more often, even in joyful moments.

I can give meaning to their lives of many struggles in retrospect by being happy, and by appreciating the life I received from them.

Sometimes in my imagination that I show them the beauty I see, hear, and experience – in other words, I just remind myself that through me they also still experience this world.

And of course, they dance with me, too.

“I am he who has gazed a hundred thousand years
On that which he now sees for the first time.
One moment, and fulfilled all time appears
In a hundred thousand forbears’ eyes and mine.

I see what they could not because they must
Drag hoes, kill and embrace, for this enrolled,
And they, who have descended into dust
See what I do not, if the truth be told.

We know each other as sorrow and delight.
I, in the past, they in the present live.
They hold the pencil in the poem I write.
I feel them and evoke what they now give. (…)

They speak to me, for not I am they, robust Despite whatever weakness made me frail,
And I think back that I am more than most:
Each ancestor am I, to the first cell. (…)“

(Attila József: By the Danube)


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