Agnes Nemes Nagy

Ágnes Nemes Nagy graduated from the University of Budapest in 1944, obtaining a degree as a high school teacher of Hungarian, Latin, and the History of Art. After the war and before the Communist take-over, she was a member of the New Moon [Új Hold] intellectual writers’ group together with Weöres, Pilinszky [qq.v.] and several others. She was not allowed to publish her own poetry between 1949 and 1957, but this enforced silence only deepened and condensed her art. Until 1957 she was employed as a teacher. She is generally considered to be Hungary’s most important woman poet of the 20th century, whose output was modest in quantity but always of true depth and brilliance. Her poetry unites lyrical sensitivity with historical consciousness-morality, erudition, and intelligence with blazing passion. Her verbal magic transmuted everyday experiences and things into universal and enduring beauty. Nemes Nagy was one of the great intellectual and moral passive opponents of ‘socialist realism’ and the Marxist philosophy of art.

She is one of the most translated Hungarian poets; Bruce Berlind, Hugh Maxton, George Szirtes, and others have presented her poetry in English She uses classical metre and rhyme as often and as effortlessly as she writes free verse. Translators have chosen to render her poetry formally or in free flowing English.