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Babits Mihály: The tomb of Hegeso (Hegeso sírja in English)

Portre of Babits Mihály

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Hegeso sírja (Hungarian)

Egy görög emlékre


A kedvesem kétezer éve alszik,

kétezer éve meghalt s vár reám.

A neve Hegeso. - Lábhegytől arcig

márványszinű - s komoly görög leány.


Élő, habár lehellete se hallszik

keble átduzzad ráncos khítonán

Fürtös fejében ki tudja mi rajzik?

Ül meghajolva. Méla. Halovány.


Előtte állva szolgálója tartja

rabszolgalány, a drága ládikát,

amelyből ékszereit válogatja.


Talán azt nézi (lelkem bús reménye!)

melyikkel ékesítse föl magát,

ha megjövök majd én, a vőlegénye.



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Source of the quotation

The tomb of Hegeso (English)

On a Greek monument*


My heart’s true bride has slept two thousand years;

Dead for two thousand years, she waits for me.

A Greek girl, Hegeso, sedate to see

from head to foot pale marble she appears.


Living, I swear, though none her breathing hears,

Her robe, conceals a heart’s grave systole,

Thoughts in that curly head flow full and free

As bowed she sits, pale, pensive, and sincere.


Before her stands a slave, a little girl,

Who holds a costly casket, from whose freight

She sets out gems, rare amethyst and pearl;


Perchance (I dream) she means in jewelled state

Her treasured virgin beauty to unfurl

When I, hereafter, come to be her mate.


*A marble grave-stone in the National Museum, Athens. Dating from about 425 B.C., the relief carving shows Hegeso seated in a chair, sorting out jewels from a casket held by a slavegirl.

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Source of the quotation