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The Poet Árpád Tóth

Momentary fleeting happiness and situational resignation are the two pillars of Árpád Tóth’s poetic works, a reflection of his great suffering in life. Like so many during the age he was afflicted by tuberculosis and lived in poverty for the most part of it. 

His works speak of stark reality, failed expectations in life and love, dashed hopes and dreams.

While very young he and his family moved to Debrecen in 1889 and he attended high school there and first worked here as a journalist, he then went on to study Hungarian and German language at the University of Budapest in 1907 but did not complete his studies.

Translation work provided for much of his income, but he was also a tutor to a wealthy family for a short time.

He translated famous authors’ works.  Poets, – including works by famous British poets Percy Bysshe Shelly, John Milton, and John Keats as well as the great French poets of the time.

Poetry was his joy and his solace and an important outlet for expression.  His own works appeared in “A Hét” and “Vasárnapi Újság” publications, but he is most remembered for being a prolific contributor of his own poetic works to the Nyugat School and Nyugat publication in the last decade of his life. 

Árpád Tóth

He suffered greatly from tuberculosis in his 30’s during the 1920s to the point of being suicidal, and he later died from the disease at the relatively young age of just 42.

Like many a great poet, he was an expert on suffering, – and the despair that goes with it, while finding fleeting joy in precious moments. As a lyric poet, his works are considered important in form, because they influenced the development of views and literary principles of Nyugat School. An example of one of his works is below.

Evening Radiant Wreath

The road before us became ashes
And a body of shadows fell through the park,
But still a delicate, soft ray wreath
Pound your dark hair into the foliage of twilight:

Pale, gentle and serious glow,
Which was barely an earth copy of the lights,
And half-smelled it and silenced it
The evening wandering of things.

Scent and silence. Smell of secrets
In your bright hair and the silence of peace in heaven,
And it was good to live like never before,
And my eyes poured light into my heart:

I no longer knew if you were
Or blessed lace bush dear body,
In which a god came down to earth
And his soul trembleth from his leaf?

I stood in awe, for many, quietly,
And minutes went by, millennials came,
You took my hand all at once,
And my sleeping lips slowly came up,

And I felt like it came back to my heart,
And it comes with dripping, deep music,
Like numb blood vessels in my paths of blood,
The earthly feeling: how much I love you!

Image source + List of Works