Ivan Blatný

Poet, son of the writer Lev Blatný (1894-1930). Born in Brno, he spent the first part of his life here – before escaping into exile in 1948. He lived in a house...

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František Halas

Poet, translator and publicist, Brno born, spent his childhood and youth here. He learned the bookseller’s trade from A. Píša and for a brief period (1919–1921)...

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Oldřich Mikulášek

Poet and publicist. Lived in Brno from 1937 until his death, latterly at Mášova street. He is linked to several cultural institutions (the Brno studios of Czechoslovak...

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Jaroslav Seifert

Poet, publicist, memoirist. The first – and so far the only Czech to receive the Nobel prize for Literature. In addition to the lasting popularity he won through...

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Jan Skácel

Poet, writer, editor and translator. Spent most of his life in Brno and is closely linked to a number of Brno cultural institutions (the magazine Host do domu...

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Vít Slíva

Poet and schoolteacher. His connection to Brno dates back to his university days. Apart from one interlude, he has been living to this day at Poděbradova street....

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Kraví hora (Cow Hill)

The place and its poets

Ivan Blatný

Places (in alphabetical order)

Ivan Blatný

1919  –  1990

Poet, son of the writer Lev Blatný (1894-1930). Born in Brno, he spent the first part of his life here – before escaping into exile in 1948. He lived in a house at Obilní trh (‘the Corn Market’), where he was frequently the host of other poets of his generation, who blithely called the house “Hotel Blatný”. For several years he worked at the family’s optics shop in Česká street. His debut came in 1940. He is closely tied to Brno through his works; one entire collection is devoted to the city (Melancholické procházky ‘Melancholy walks’, 1941). The verses of this collection have become legendary, being a paean for the city and much credited with its being discovered as a “poetic” city. In exile, after 1948 he spent time in several psychiatric hospitals, but almost the entire time wrote verse on loose sheets and scraps of paper. He was rediscovered in 1979 (Stará bydliště ‘Old domiciles’); in 1991 his mortal remains were transferred to the Central cemetery in Brno.


The poem and the place


On Cow Hill, kites veer and tumble,
I for my head-hid toggle fumble,
in mothered body’s life-blood mesh.
A coconut shy is one crown, humble,
where to now, starling? You won’t mumble
“Startling, and some”, is your fine song …

Many a now deserted stall,
where folks have nothing left at all,
but a white elephant tusk, so-long.
On ‘Pauperville’ are we to call?
Kunstadt is chaste still, still to fall,
yet hark his death-knell’s going gong.

                                               translated by Václav Pinkava

Blatný, Ivan: Jde pražské dítě domů z bia…, (A Prague child heads home from the movies…) ed. Martin Reiner, Brno: Druhé město 2017, p. 125. 


Jiří Trávníček  -   travnicek@ucl.cas.cz
Michal Fránek  -   franek@ucl.cas.cz

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