János Pilinszky was born and educated in Budapest, first studying law and then philosophy. His earliest poems appeared in literary reviews of 1940. He was drafted into the Hungarian army toward the end of the war, and was evacuated to Germany, making his way back to Hungary in 1945.
After various editorial jobs, Pilinszky became a staff member of the Catholic weekly, Új Ember, where he remained until his death. His first slim collection of poetry, Harmadnapon (On the Third Day) established his reputation, and characterized his poetic stance as an existential Catholic concerned with human suffering. After this he traveled widely, spending long periods in France and visiting England several times. His collected poems, Kráter (Crater) were published in 1976. In 1980 he was awarded the Kossuth Prize.
BOOKS OF POETRY
Trapéz és korlát. Versek (Budapest: Ezüstkor, 1946); Aranymadár. Verses mesék (Budapest: Magvetö, 1957); Harmadnapon (Budapest: Szépirodalmi, 1959); Rekviem. Versek és próza (Budapest:Magvetö, 1964); Nagyvárosi ikonok. Összegyujtött versek 1940-1970 (Budapest: Szépirodalmi, 1970); Szálkák (Budapest: Szépirodalmi, 1972); Végkifejlet. Versek és színmuvek (Budapest: Szépirodalmi, 1974); A nap születése. Régi és új verses mesék (Budapest: Móra, 1974); Kráter. Összegyujtött és új versek (Budapest: Szépirodalmi, 1976); Válogatott versek (Budapest: Magvetö and Szépirodalmi, 1978); Összegyüjtött versei (Budapest: Szépirodalmi, 1987).
ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS
Selected Poems, translated by Ted Hughes and János Csokits (Manchester: Carcanet New Press, 1976); Crater: Poems 1974-75, translated by Peter Jay (London: Anvil Press Poetry, 1978); Scaffold in Winter: Selected Poems, translated by I. L. Halasz de Beky (Toronto: Box Humana, 1982); The Desert of Love [expanded edition of Selected Poems] (London: Anvil Press Poetry, 1989); Metropolitan Icons: Selected Poems of János Pilinszky in Hungarian and English, translated by Emery George (Lampeter, Dyfed, Wales: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1995)
For a selection of poetry, go here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/janos-pilinszky