[K:NWTS 22/3 (Dec 2007) 16]

In Marosszentimre Church1

Jékely Zoltán (1913-1982)

Translated by Bernard S. Adams

As crumbling plaster falls upon our heads,
Thus we the praises of dear Zion sing:
Beneath the pews mice scurry from their nests,
An ancient company of owls take wing.
We in the congregation number ten,
Eleven if we reckon in the priest,
But when we sing, we sound a hundred men.
Down pour the plaster and the dust;
The bats are startled in their attic roost;
Worm-eaten rafters weakened even more.
Eleventh is our solitary priest,
The twelfth among us is the Lord himself.
And so we sing, the few that still remain
—The Lord exacts a price from him that loves—
And those whom wicked time from us has ta'en
Join in our psalmody beneath the floor.


1 Marosszentimre is in modern Rumania (Transylvania) near Gyulafehérvár (modern Alba Iulia). The church is an old Protestant structure. Bernard S. Adams lives in Hungary.