Home > Poetry > Letter to the American Poet Gregory Corso
Translated from the Hungarian by Len Roberts and László Vértes
Published: Thu Oct 15 1992
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Letter to the American Poet Gregory Corso

Translated from the Hungarian by Len Roberts and László Vértes

I’d like to roam the world with you,
derailer of time,
twentieth-century rowdy.
Your striped t-shirt reminds me of prison clothes,
runaway prisoner of poetry,
apostle of adultery.
Come on, tie up your sneakers,
let’s go to the Moon,
the Sahara,
and the capital of our good mood: Spoleto!

It’s night in Dome Square.
Marble cubes swim about in the glass of darkness,
like splinters of ice
in bitter whiskey.

Let’s drink the city down at one gulp!

Menotti doesn’t compose music today,
he invites us to a soirée,
in his garden millionaire bitches
wait for poetry’s
pitchforked satyrs—
your hand’s a pitchfork,
your mouth’s a flame-thrower,
you can curse more beautifully
than the Pope can pray,
come on, let’s raise some hell tonight.


It may be good to steal cars
if we can’t steal immortality

and to peal with the tin-box
if we can’t with Christ’s leg.


Let’s play—you like to play:
let’s poke each other’s eyes,
perhaps we’ll be kinder this way
than those who smile.
Let’s break up your bombs for eggs on a plate
and Europe may then admire a new art of cooking.


And moron! moron!—let’s holler
at the Polar Bear-Senator,
the prime minsters, who spend
the weekend in the barrel of a cannon.
Oh, weekends!
oh, Sundays!
oh, Whitehouses! Parliaments!
tanks crawl forth
from your snail shells everywhere
and the poets fall on their backs on their slimy tracks.
Morons! morons!—let’s holler at the poets
who fall on their backs,
they don’t deserve bread,
they don’t deserve death.

We have already mumbled so many times
our mouths are swollen from it.
Corso, let’s scuttle our tongues,
as though they were aircraft-carriers.
Let others rattle
the flittering heavenly harps,
let the Martians beat the Saturn-drum.

Everything can happen to us
if we stay,
everything that has already happened to us.
Come on,
we should be that procession
which rambles every which-way,
changes homeland to get to like the other’s homeland,
signs the sea, as if some picture postcard,
and has a rest in the towns,
to let the towns have a rest, too,
and doesn’t petition for mercy
when it’s sued for its marching,
which it came to love on the seventh day.

See what's inside AGNI 36

Sándor Csoóri is one of Hungary’s foremost poets and essayists. (updated 1992)

Len Roberts (1947–2007) was a poet as well as a frequent translator of the work of Hungarian poet Sándor Csoóri. Roberts published ten collections of poetry during his lifetime, including The Trouble-Making Finch (University of Illinois Press, 1998) and The Silent Singer: New and Selected Poems (Illinois, 2001). (updated 6/2010)
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