The Set of Seven Utterances

Attila József (1905 – 1937)
“The Seventh”
Winter Night: Selected Poems of Attila József, translated by John Bátki

These are the opening stanzas:

If you set out in this world,
better be born seven times.
Once, in a house on fire,
once, in a freezing flood,
once, in a wild madhouse,
once, in a field of ripe wheat,
once, in an empty cloister,
and once among pigs in sty.
Six babes crying, not enough:
you yourself must be the seventh.

When you must fight to survive,
let your enemy see seven.
One, away from work on Sunday,
one, starting his work on Monday,
one, who teaches without payment,
one, who learned to swim by drowning,
one, who is the seed of a forest,
and one, whom wild forefathers protect,
but all their tricks are not enough:
you yourself must be the seventh.

The enumerations continue and the accumulating variety keeps the reader how many more sevens are in store … always not enough calling to the interlocutor to be the seventh one more time.

And so for day 2482

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