Project Description

Thomas Orzag-land


Thomas Orzag-Land (b. 1938): I am a poet and award-winning foreign correspondent writing for global syndication mostly from London and Eastern Europe. I survived the Holocaust as well as the three-month Soviet siege of Budapest as a Jewish child hiding from both the Nazis and the Allied bombers. I took part in the 1956 Hungarian revolution against Communist rule as a journalist on the staff of A Magyar Függetlenség. I later read philosophy at Acadia University in Nova Scotia and trained as a journalist on United Press International in Montreal and The Times and The Financial Times of London. My poetry has been published by the BBC World Service, The London Magazineand The New York Times, my reviews and polemics by The Times Literary Supplement (London), Foreign Policy (Washington) and The Jerusalem Report.As a journalist, I cover international affairs, society and the arts; and I pride myself for producing lively and authoritative copy, written to length, on time. My books include eight collections of poetry in many editions, some of them English translations of work by little known, major Holocaust poets. My next book will beThe Survivors: Holocaust Poetry for Our Time (Smokestack, England, 2014). I can be reached at Thomland111@Hotmail.Com

Thomas Land


Adapted from the Renaissance French of Francois Villon (b. 1431) & the Hungarian of György Faludy (1910-2006)

Villon the vagabond was one of Europe’s first modern poets. Faludy, a Jewish-Hungarian master, spent some of his best writing years in exile or political imprisonment. This poem about the massive Westward flow of abused stateless migrants that characterises the 21st century is dedicated to The Exiled Writers Ink! organization of London.


I’ve proudly wrapped my dazzling sky around me

yet I have found one faithful friend: the fog.

In banquet halls I’ve heard my hunger howling.

By fires, I have endured the test of frost.

I am a prince of human kind: I’ve reached out

and to my thirsty lips, the mud has swelled –

My paths are marked by wilting wildflowers: even

the festive seasons wither from our breath.

I stare surprised in disbelief when genial

warm sunshine holds my frame in calm caress.

And thus across three continents I’ve traveled

and been despised and welcomed everywhere.

I’ve wrestled with the storms on shriveled wastelands.

My dress: a leaf that graced a bygone tree.

And nothing’s clearer to me than night’s fragrance

and nothing darker than high noontide’s blaze.

My rising sobs have burst in wary taverns

but in the graveyards I have laughed my fill,

and all I own are things I’ve long discarded

and thus I’ve come to value everything.

Upon my stubborn curls, the spell of autumn

collects its silver while, a child at heart,

I cross this freezing landscape never pausing,

and live despised and welcomed everywhere.

Triumphant stars erect their vast cathedral

above me, and dew calms my feet below

as I pursue my fleeing god in sorrow

and sense my world through every pore in joy.

I’ve rested on the peaks of many mountains.

I’ve sweltered with the captive quarry-slaves.

And at my cost, I’ve learned to shun the towers

of state and curse our rulers’ power games.

My share: the worst and best in every bargain,

and thus I’ve come to find an equal ease

in squalor and beneath the whitest pillars,

a guest despised and welcomed everywhere.

I have no state, no home – nor choice but freedom.

Between my legs, the playful wind alone

performs a merry duet with my arse-hole.

I wish that I could quell the foolish fears

of local folks, that they would see the person

I am, beyond my status, and receive

my gift of words I’ve brought to share with them.

The time may come when all my words will rhyme

and I will dip my pen in molten gold

…before I find a restful spot beneath

some wizened thicket, and remain forever

a voice: despised and welcomed, everywhere.