The Four Ox Cart - a Love Poem by Sandor Petofi (Translated From Hungarian)

Budapest Montage

Budapest Montage
Budapest Montage | Source
Sandor Petofi
Sandor Petofi
Sandor Petofi Statue
Sandor Petofi Statue
Ox Drawn Cart
Ox Drawn Cart
Oxen Pulling a Cart
Oxen Pulling a Cart
Oxen Pulling a Cart
Oxen Pulling a Cart
The Puszta at Hortobagy
The Puszta at Hortobagy

A Love Poem by Sandor Petofi

5 out of 5 stars from 3 ratings of The Four Ox Cart

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The Four Ox Cart

(A négyökrös szekér)

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In 1990, I visited Hungary with a dear friend. We spent a couple of days in Budapest and then took a tour of the artist colony in Szentendre.

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We also took a boat ride on the Danube river to Esztergom, the ancient capital of Hungary (until the mid 13th century). Esztergom is also the seat of the Roman Catholic Church in Hungary and has a magnificent cathedral. It was in early September and it was unusually warm just like it is now.

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My translation of Sandor Petofi’s poem, "A négyökrös szekér", brought back memories of that trip. Unfortunately, we never selected a star for our very own.


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The Four Ox Cart

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This happened not in Budapest.

Romantic things don’t happen there.

The members of our little group

Climbed upon an ox drawn cart.

In the cart safe. still in the oxcart

Two pair of oxen were in the front,

And down the road pulling the cart

The four oxen quietly wandered on.

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The night was clear. The moon shone above.

It faintly moved through the broken clouds.

Like an old woman searching for her husband’s Grave,

Among the markers in a church graveyard.

A fleeting breeze swept the fields nearby.

It stole their sweet, grassy fragrance and was gone.

While down the road pulling the cart

The four oxen quietly wandered on.

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I was also a member of that group

And was sitting next to Elizabeth.

The other members of our group

Were talking and singing a little song.

I dreamily said to Elizabeth:

"Shall we choose a star for our very own?"

While down the road pulling the cart.

The four oxen quietly wandered on.

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"Let us choose a star for our very own."

To Elizabeth I dreamily said.

"The star will guide us back some day,

To memories of happier times,

If fate should lead us far apart."

So we chose a star for our very own

While down the road pulling the cart

The four oxen quietly wandered on.

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Sandor Petofi 1845

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Again, let me remind you of the difficulty of translating a poem from one language to another, It is generally not possible to make the translation rhyme without losing some of the beauty of what the poet was trying to say. I chose to modify the word order and phrasing to make the words flow better in English.

The following link will take you to the poem in Hungarian and a different translation..

http://www.babelmatrix.org/works/hu/Pet%C5%91fi_S%C3%A1ndor/A_n%C3%A9gy%C3%B6kr%C3%B6s_szek%C3%A9r/en/2069-The_Cart_with_Four_Oxen

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The Hungarian Puszta

Esztergom and Szentendre

Esztergom Montage
Esztergom Montage
Esztergom Bascilica at Night
Esztergom Bascilica at Night
Szentendre
Szentendre
Szetendre
Szetendre

Tour of Szentendre

show route and directions
A markerBudapest, Hungary -
Budapest, Hungary
[get directions]

B markerthe Puszta -
Puszta, Tömörkény, Hungary
[get directions]

C markerDebrecen, Hungary -
Debrecen, Hungary
[get directions]

D markerEsztergom, Hungary -
Esztergom, Hungary
[get directions]

E markerSzentendre, Hungary -
Szentendre, Hungary
[get directions]

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Comments 3 comments

rmjudkins 5 years ago

rjsadowski, I like the imagery of the four oxygen and the message to me that life, though we may be oblivious, is constantly moving. Hopefully, like the narrator of the poem, we will savor that life as we journey to our ultimate destination. Life is guaranteed to vary its course from time to time. It is during those periods that we can take comfort in that "star". Thanks for sharing your translation with us. Awesome, useful, and thumbs up!!! Regards, Robert


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rjsadowski 5 years ago Author

Yes, I agree with you. I also regard the continued repetition of the four oxen slowly moving along as a representation of the constant passage of time. The author reminds us that sometimes we need to insert a placemarker to help us remember a special moment in time.


Kerryn 23 months ago

Wow I must confess you make some very trnechant points.

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