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The thrill of literary romance

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From the Hungarian writer George Konrad’s memoirs, A Guest in my Own Country: A Hungarian Life (2002) a tale of an unlikely but endearing romance with his first wife, Julia:

When I first met Julia Langh, who would be my wife from the autumn of 1960 to the autumn of  1976, she had floated into the Kisposta Cafe trailing blond hair and rustling  black rain-coat and wearing a white blouse with a turned-down collar. She had just come from university — where she had been accepted thanks to her perfect gimnazium record and a captivating articulateness — and entered the cafe, a first-year student in French and Hungarian, suppressing her timidity and wondering, “My God, what happens now? Who is that old man, that twenty-seven year old?” She was not quite eighteen.

I would show up at six a.m. with notebook, pen, and ink, as if punching a time clock. It allowed me to watch the rendezvous, generally hurried, that took place before work.
….from that morning on, Juli and I saw each other practically everyday for sixteen years. I could always be assured of stories: she is the kind of person whom elaborate things happen to, or who can make them happen. For her part, she did not appear to find the stories of the aging welfare officer and part-time proof reader tedious and had no qualms about putting the  necktied knight in his place when the stories turned into analyses. She was obviously free of all dishonorable intentions.


And then this poem from Osip Mandelstam, translated from Russian to English  by A.S.  Kline, and which the poet wrote for his wife Nadezhada:

This is what I most want

This is what I most want

un-pursued, alone

to reach beyond the light

that I am furthest from.

And for you to shine there-

no other happiness-

and learn, from starlight,

what its fire might suggest.

A star burns as a star,

light becomes light,

because our murmuring

strengthens us, and warms the night.

And I want to say to you

my little one, whispering,

I can only lift you towards the light

by means of this babbling.

Written by Romel

April 8, 2013 at 6:01 pm

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