At the Funeral of My Friend George Konrad

At the Funeral of My Friend George Konrad


What are you doing inside that box,

dear friend? What are you doing there,

dissident-in-residence, man of a thousand smiles,

guest in your own country? A small flotilla

of rabbis surrounds you, here in yet

another Jewish ghetto, much like the ghetto

you hid in as they were shot into the Danube.

Now, you are surrounded again

by lapsed Jews of all sorts, fellow scribes,

five children, two wives, countless neighbors,

friends, admirers of all sorts. But, still,

what are you doing inside that box?

Twenty-six years ago, we met in the bar

on the 15th floor of the Hotel Budapest,

you talking as usual to someone with a

tape recorder and pen, eager to share your wisdom.

I, too, was eager to share your wisdom—

stories of the famous and unknown,

so many lives squeezed into a single life.

“A man’s life is nothing,” your father said

as he lay dying, but your life was something,

your life was special. Now they will bury you

in the earth, where you once buried

your own manuscripts, as if they were

reuniting you with your own words. But you

will not be alone: Ady Babits Faludy Fejtő Jókai 

József Kisfaludy Kosztolányi Krúdy Lukács Móricz 

Radnóti Szerb Vörösmarty are all there with you.

Yet, still, it is hard for me to understand

what you are doing inside that box,

since no box is big enough

no box could be big enough

no box will ever be big enough

to steal your massive spirit from this earth.


                                                                               Farkasréti temető

                                                                              22 September 2019