Dear Juhász, who are you?
Gyula Juhász was born in Szeged in 1883. He was one of the greatest love lyricists of the 20th century. What kind of man was he? His peers described him as a quiet and reserved person, who thought that his appearance was extremely disadvantageous. His father died early – because his syphilis caused him neurotic diseases -, thus he clung to his mother very much. Juhász wanted to be a priest, but finally turned his back to ecclesiastic life and enrolled in the Hungarian-Latin department of the University of Budapest. He made friends with Babits and Kosztolányi here. After finishing university, he taught in hidden little villages, without having a real company, and he suffered from headaches and depression. Fortunately, he went to Nagyvárad later, where he met Anna Sárvári, the muse of his Anna poems.
Voices of muses
The poet could meet Vilma Zöldi first in 1918, when he had an unexpected success with his performance at the theatre of Szeged. Their relationship started then; he called Vilma on the name in her role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Probably, he did not consider her real name poetical enough. Did she requite the poet’s feelings? Remained letters hint that she was a more serious and deeper soul than Anna Sárvári. She must have understood his letters to her, loved and appreciated him in her own way, but could not return his emotions. Her life ended just as tragically as Juhász’s did.
The confidential secretary – Irma Kilényi
The poet hired Irma Kilényi as of 1919. The literature-admiring teacher collected the literary relics, manuscripts and photos of the poet. Later, she corresponded with sanatoria, clinics, publishers, and encouraged the distressed Gyula Juhász in her letters written to the ailing poet. The endlessly good and amiable Gyula, as she calls him in her letters, tried to keep his feelings towards her in secret, but returned her friendship and presented her with little gifts. His dear secretary never married; she escaped to suicide when her friend Mrs. Béla Vajda – with whom she kept house together for several decades – was deported.
The self-consuming skinny chap, who was a terrible letter-writer
Being a friend of Mihály Babits could be a great thing; he and his wife Ilona Tanner stayed in Szeged several times. Their friendly correspondence gives evidence of their unreserved relationship. In his letters, Babits invites the poet to his “lodge” in Esztergom many times.
In Juhász’s self-confession, we can all recognize ourselves; and we close our article with this cue:
“…Forgive me for not writing anymore of myself, you know it well that I am almost as bad in letter-writing as you are, and that was already a lot from me.”
Translated by Zita Aknai