A Hungarian Lament.

The Iliad has been described as "war music", and the music of war is not always martial. Embedded within the structure of the Iliad are many instances of keening, or lament, usually by women, often in ritual contexts. The most famous examples are the three laments by Helen, Hecuba, and Andromache over Hektor's corpse in Scroll 24 of the Iliad, though the language of lamentation and threnody can be traced throughout the Iliad (and is crucial to our understanding of recompense and reciprocity--do the women in the Iliad reckon life differently than the men?). We offer below a transcription and recording of a modern Hungarian lament, one that mirrors the language often employed in ancient Greek lament. We hope you find it useful as you continue your reading in the Iliad. (For those who have read Andromache's farewell to Hektor in Scroll Six, what parallels do you find?)

-Tom Jenkins, Teaching Fellow, Homer's Poetic Justice

Transcribed by Henry Bayerle

1. jaj jaj énnekem bánatos anyának!

jaj jaj for me, sorrowful mother!

2. jaj jaj jaj jaj, jaj jaj jaj, Gézikám!

jaj 7x, my little Géza!

3. Hogy elrabolták a fiam tö:lem

How they robbed my son from me.

4. Gézikám, Gézikám!

my little Géza! 2x

5. Hun vagy édes fiam?

where are you, my sweet son

6. Drága gyerekem!

my dear child

7. jaj jaj jaj jaj jaj jaj!

jaj 6x

8. Jaj minden szentek napja

Jaj, every saint's day,

9. úgy járkálok a sírok közt,

how I wander among the graves

10. hogy nem tanálom a sírodat

- but I can't find your grave.

11. Gézikám édes fiam

my little Géza, my sweet son

12. Gézikám Dezsö:kém

my little Dezsö:, my sweet son

14. drága gyerekeim!

my dear children

15. Hun vagytok, merre vagytok?

where are you, where are you headed?

16. Jaj de szerencsétlen anya vagyok!

jaj, how luckless a mother I am

17. A gyerekeim elsodródtak tölem messze a vihar.

My children have been swept away, far away, by the storm.

18. Nem tanálom, nem tanálom,

I can't find them, I can't find them.

19. jaj nekem, jaj nekem!

jaj for me, jaj for me

20. Itthon vagyok evvel a bánatos szívü apátokval,

I'm here at home with this father of yours with the sad heart.

21. akinek minden héten kiszedik a vérit.

Every week they rip out his veins

22. Jaj jaj jaj, olyan kínosan néz szegeny!

jaj 3x, he looks so tortured

23. Jaj jaj jaj jaj jaj jaj nekem

jaj 6x for me

24. Hova legyek, mit csináljak?

where am I headed, what am I to do?

25. Kihö forduljak panaszra?

where shall I turn for consolation?

26. Ki segít rajtam, ki vigasztal engem?

who will help me, who will comfort me?

27. Ki ad nekem egy darabka kenyeret

who will give to me a little piece of bread,

28. édes fiaim énnekem?

my sweet sons, to me?

29. Jaj, hova legyek, mit csináljak?

jaj, where am I headed, what am I to do?

30. Jaj, kihö menjek?

jaj, where am I to go?

31. Kihö menjek panaszra, édes fiaim, drága gyerekeim?

where shall I turn for consolation, my sweet sons, my dear children?

32. Nincs aki azt mondaná nekem,

There is nobody who would say to me,

33. hogy édesanyám de szeretlek!

My sweet mother, how I love you!

34. Gézikám drága gyerekem,

My little Géza, my dear child,

35. aki ölelt-csókolt minden pillanatba engem.

who hugged and kissed me every moment.

36. Anyukám, nem tehetek róla,

My dear little mother [= "mommy"], I can't help it,

37. de nagyon-nagyon szeretlek!

but I love you very very much.

Note especially lines 18 and following, disorientation; lines 20-21, the father is incapacitated with grief; line 27, loss of support of children; lines 32 and following, time-warp (how old is the child now?); line 35, role-change (from son to what?); lines 36-37, speaker-change.


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