Arany János: Civilizáció / Civilization

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One last poem for today. This one relates to my addiction to international relations, quoted many times by Hungarian international law scholars when speaking about the function of international law.

János Arany, famous Hungarian poet was much upset about the outcome of the Russo-Turkish war in 1878 when the Congress of Berlin met to reorganize the countries of the Balkans. Not many were satisfied with the unjust resettlement, many still consider these decisions as starting point eventually leading to World War I.

Civilization is a short poem with much irony expressing the popular opinion of that time. I like to think it is not true today, but you decide. 🙂

The English translation below is my own, so please excuse if it lacks any artistic taste, I am not used to doing this. 🙂


Arany János:


Ezelőtt a háborúban
Nem követtek semmi elvet,
Az erősebb a gyengétől
Amit elvehetett, elvett.

Most nem úgy van. A világot
Értekezlet igazgatja:
S az erősebb ha ‘mi csinyt tesz,
Összeűl és – helybehagyja. 


János Arany:


Earlier in wars 
There were no principles followed,
The strong from the weak
Took whatever he could.

Not anymore. The world now
is ruled by a summit: 
And if the strong does something wrong,
It gathers and – agrees.

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