Monday, 12 January 2009


Hungarian-born poet and translator George Szirtes asks if anybody knows where the post-1989 Eastern European poets are hiding. Perhaps there's nothing for them to write about anymore? suggests Szirtes.
In Hungary, there's much that poets could, and should, be writing about. One of the subjects, if they have not the imagination to think of one themselves, is the subject of Bohunice, the Slovakian Soviet-era Nuclear Reactor that the authorities propose to restart.
Millions of people live in the shadow of this dangerous nuclear dinosaur - in Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine, and in Austria where Poet-in-Residence has his bardic Schreibtisch.


Bohunice gently sleeps
in her soft golden bed
her silver haired head
on embroidered pillow
where the nightmares play out
in the cold and the dark
of her candlelit room
with its heavy drapes
but open a chink
to let in the sunlight
when it comes
if it comes
and the long narrow windows
to let out the stink
from her bones
which are rotting with gangrene
and the smell from the mold
on the walls
for toadstools grow well
in the damp and the dark
of this winter's night
in this room of Bohunice's
where the fire is still laid
in the grate
where the spiders now hang
and patiently wait
for their day -
but the fire's not lit
and the papers are screwed
upwith kindling
for the blaze
she shall light
when she wakes
and burns down her house.

Gwilym Williams


  1. Thank you John! It's one of those all too rare 'out of the blue' poems.


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