A poem of wartime Hungary

Marilyn J. Baszczynski

The poem Gyuri is based on true-life stories and events as recounted by people who had witnessed them before, during and after World War II in Hungary and Germany. The narrative focuses on Hungarians of German descent who had settled in Hungary in the seventeenth century and who considered Hungary their homeland. Of this group of close to 450,000 ethnic German people, about 95% were expelled from Hungary, deported to Soviet labor camps and to Germany at the end of World War II, as set out in the Potsdam Conference of 1945. In 1946, entire towns disappeared with freight trains full of refugees; abandoned houses and farms crumbled into ruins. Gyuri is a young man caught up in this maelstrom; his story is narrated by the woman who loved him.

“In simple language that dances its way through the pages, we meet a young couple whose fate is inextricably bound by time and place. Whether or not one lived during World War II and remembers the grayness that enshrouded the world — days that Gyuri met with laughter and dance — the romance and heartbreak of the woman he loved come through strongly in this narrative poem. Gyuri “draws us in,” makes us believe “it will be okay.” Handling the true story of her parents with remarkable deftness, Baszczynski’s tale of real people is a reminder that each life has stories to be told.”

- Lucille Morgan Wilson, Editor, Lyrical Iowa

Gyuri is a poem that needs to be read aloud, or perhaps sung. The words come together in such a lyrical fashion. Its music draws the reader into the poem and keeps them reading. In the back of the mind play “polkas, waltzes, csárdás, tangos / laughing, singing, dancing, dancing.” Repetition is used effectively in the poem to drive home emotion, whether happiness or despair. Imagery is enhanced with the addition of family photos, inviting us to become relatives. If I wanted a biography of my life, I would want Marilyn Baszczynski to write it in this form.”

- Dennis Maulsby, Past President of the Iowa Poetry Association

Marilyn Baszczynski, originally from Ontario, Canada, teaches and tutors French in Central Iowa. Writing since childhood and largely inspired by living in the country, she weaves life’s journeys and detours into her poems. She has won awards for her poetry in NFSPS and Iowa Poetry Association contests. Her poetry has appeared in Lyrical Iowa, The Aurorean, Tipton Poetry Journal, Midwest Poetry Review, Sweet Annie & Sweet Pea Review and online at Mused - the BellaOnline Literary Review, Loch Raven Review and Marilyn is President of the Iowa Poetry Association.

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An excerpt from Gyuri

IV. The Dance
I never ventured to his village 
lying north beyond our hills;
no road connected us to Csibrák 
just dirt lanes that farmers used.

He came on foot to see an auntie,
stayed to dance, he loved to dance,
and watch the pretty Mucsi girls 
who wondered 'bout this handsome youth.

I wondered, too, as he walked over,
something sparkled in his eyes.
We twirled and spun with such abandon
Mother stood close, disapproved.

He said, "Remember me? I'm Gyuri.
You're very pretty, very pretty."
So I blushed, and greatly flattered,
hoped he'd want to tell me more.

I'd forgotten dark-haired mischief
caused by the boy with the impish grin.
He'd been around before the war and
now I feared he'd become a man;

they'd come to take him next time through
and ship him off to neverland.
I was fifteen, he was eighteen; 
war was tinting all things gray.

I don't know why he courted me;
his mother vetoed, mine said, wait;
he was eighteen, I was fifteen
with war disrupting everything.

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