János Pilinszky (November 27, 1921 – May 27, 1981) is considered of the greatest 20th-century Hungarian poets and a recipient of numerous prizes for his work. He was the fourth member of the so-called “new moon” generation at the literary magazine Nyugat.
His poetry was influenced by his concentration camp experiences, his Christian existentialism, his objective lyricism and his Catholic faith. In addition to poetry, he wrote epic and dramatic works. In his first work, Pilinszky draws his readers into a comprehensive world of personality, desire, love, guilt and jeopardy with language full of passion, approaching the borders of pain. Later, the aesthetics of the Gospel occupy a central role in his poetry, as evidenced by the increasing shift from passionate, rhythmic use of language towards glorious hopelessness and sparse, ascetic language. His poetry also became more terse, almost as a reflection of his earlier idea that “this call (“of a God banished behind facts”) must be heeded, even at the risk of eternal, perfect silence”.
To mark the anniversary of his birth the Hungarian Mint is issuing a 10,000-forint silver commemorative coin, along with a 2,000-forint copper-nickel version. The front of each coin shows a bare tree in a grassy, wind-swept landscape, with a key motif from Pilinszky’s poem Apocryph – the rising sun, like a wide-open eye with a magnified iris and pupil. The upper circular legend reads “MAGYARORSZÁG” (Hungary), with the denomination “2000” or “10000” next to it, separated by a dot, and the legend “FORINT,” along with the mint mark “BP.” on the left and the date “2021” on the right.
The back bears a half-profile portrait of the poet, based on a famous photograph showing a thoughtful, melancholy Pilinszky leaning against a tree. His signature is on the right, with the dates of his birth and death below it. The mark of designer and sculptor Balázs Pelcz is integrated into the hem of Pilinszky’s jacket.
The coins are each 38.61 mm in diameter. The copper-nickel coin with a face value of 2,000 forints weighs 30.8 grams.