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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Brno

Places (in alphabetical order)

František Gellner

1881  –  1914

Poet, writer, painter and caricaturist; spent the last three years of his none-too-long life in Brno. Invited to contribute to the newspaper Lidové noviny by the editor-in-chief, Arnošt Heinrich, began to write initially as an outsider, and soon after as a member of the editorial team. He was tasked with the Sunday novel supplement Večery (Evenings) Two collections made his name – Po nás ať přijde potopa (After us, the deluge, 1901) and Radosti života (oys of life, 1903). He was quick to find his feet in the political and cultural milieu of Brno; he penned numerous topical satirical poems and caricatures. It was in this period that he wrote the undated poem „Poslední rytíř“ (‘The last Knight’).

The author and the places of his/her poems

Husovice


The poem and the place



Bathing

Brno is now the den of all sorts of vice
and so when the weather last turned warm and nice
I went out after lunch into the great outdoors
through Husovice and along the shores

Just past Obřany a suitable spot having found,
and having looked politely all around,
there in some thicket to disrobe swift I hid
shoes and smalls off, but my clothes first, indeed.

Out of my handkerchief I fashioned a pair of trunks 
and into the Svitavka I ventured, therein sunk,
the water was silver-cleansing, the air spa-calming,
as I soaked my limbs, in god’s awe embalming.

Never can long-uninterrupted last such bliss.
Four Germans went by, armed to the teeth at least,
kitted out as if the Alps to climb, as soon
as waylay women, from behind importune.

I was a sight for their sore eyes, exalted  –
maybe boys from Berlin. But still, they halted.
I looked serenely back at them, damp and lank,
my clothes being on the far riverbank.

“Veez dos wosa?” from the bank they did yell.
To which I, so’s not to lie: “Wet!” did tell.
Their faces flushed like turkeys, turning red.
“Behmische kultur” then one of them said.

I said: “Do me a little favour, just a tad,
go take your dip a hundred yards further, lads!”
At which the horde began to holler, order:
“Kenixmorda, morda, kenixmorda!”

My own retort was prompt, quite witty-lipped,
any king I murdered was at cards, I’d have quipped,
when from my vocab another aside I prized:
 “Alienburgers, Redlers , Prussian spies!”

Alone and nude, I then shut up, less to cause,
to save words turning into some deed, take pause,
but those same German maws got louder, swelling,
hollering on, their “Kenixmorda” yelling!

At last they set off to be gone, on their way.
And let that be your cue, guide, your takeaway 
for daughter, son alike, a lesson wise
that to keep schtum is dumb; fortune’s demise.

                                                          translated by Václav Pinkava





Gellner František: Básně. Spisy Františka Gellnera, (Poems. The works of František Gellner) part I., ed. Jan V. Sedlák & Eduard Bass, Prague: Fr. Borový 1926, pp. 402–403.



Contacts



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

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