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( 1913 - 1989 )

» The Birth of the Poem (1939)
» The Colonnade of Teeth (1947)
» Psyché (1972 )


1913 born in Szombathely, educated in small towns in Transdanubia
1929 first poem appears in Pesti Napló
1933 studies Law for a year in Pécs
1935 studies Philosophy and Aesthetics; obtains doctorate in Philosophy
1937 visits the Far East (Manila, India, Vietnam)
1941-50 works in libraries in Pécs, Székesfehérvár, Budapest
1947 marries the poet, Amy Károlyi
1947-8 spends a year in Italy
1951 loses his job, devotes time solely to writing
1957- 64 silenced for political reasons
1959 travels to China
1989. January - dies in Budapest

1935, 1936 Baumgarten Prize
1970 Kossuth Award

The Birth of the Poem

Sándor Weöres is acknowledged today as the most universal poet in the history of Hungarian literature. His unequalled talent and mastery of the language enabled him to write and translate all possible forms of Hungarian and world literature, experimenting freely with melody, form and content. He is also peerless in his purely metaphysical and spiritualistic philosophy. The poet's child-like, almost angelic innocence was paired by a curious, ironical, impish intellect; there are many anecdotes concerning his sparkling humour, versatility and visionary nature. His poems usually lack personal confession; he was not interested in the self, only in universal human and cosmic powers. On the other hand, he was extremely good at creating poetic personae. He has no message to convey, only universality; this is best proven by the fact that he is a perennial favourite among children. His poetic method is examined in his doctoral dissertation, A vers születése, which is in fact a meditation and confession on his compositional practice instead of a strictly philological work. He describes how he, almost in a trance, begins to "hear" the core of the poem which he then develops into a whole by the help of his waking mind. Like the great Romantics, he also considered himself an instrument of external powers: "I wrote my thousands of verses half-awake, / in tobacco-smoke, I don't even know how" (tr. W. J. Smith)

The Colonnade of Teeth

The volume explores mostly mythical and mythological topics, mingling sometimes a pseudo-idiotic simplicity with marvellously complex poetry. The volume also contains experiments, prose poems and the first collection of the famous one-line poems, these miniature pearls of wisdom. "My goal is not to provoke enthusiasm or irritation, nor to wish to be simply unusual. I want something different: I want to send out a ray of light that will shake the entire being, instinct, feelings, comprehension, imagination and spirit. The reader reads the poem, but the poem also reads the reader. I want to radiate through the reader and shake him so that he will give up his closed, final, existential singular "I" for the benefit of the open, social, cosmic and endless plural I's." (Sándor Weöres)


As a prose writer Weöres's output is much smaller. The title heroine of this verse novel is an imaginary 19th century Hungarian poetess, including her slim but most interesting oeuvre. Weores "captures perfectly the language, style and outlook of the age, and skilfully interweaves 'her' poems with the work of real authors, with whom 'she' carries on a lively correspondence. The verse ranges from the classical to the near obscene, and is pervaded by an impish sense of humour. ... " (G. F. Cushing)

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