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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Places (in alphabetical order)

Rudolf Těsnohlídek

1882  –  1928

Prose writer, poet, dramatist and publicist. Originally from Čáslav, his close links to Brno began in 1907, when after his unfinished studies at the Prague Philosophical Faculty he moved to Mokrá Hora, later to Bílovice nad Svitavou and in 1924 to Brno itself. From 1908 until his voluntary death he worked for the Lidové noviny newspaper, gaining renown as a trial reporter and columnist. He made much use of contemporary Brno situations in his feuilletonistic serial novels (Poseidon /1913-15/, Kolonia Kutejsík /The Kutejsík colony/,  1915-16, Poťóchlencovi příběhové /The tales of the captious/, 1917), including his parody of a utopian novel Vrba zelená (The green willow, 1925, situated in Brno in the year 2924. The Bílovice region became the location of his most famous prose Liška Bystrouška (1921, The Cunning Little Vixen of Leoš Janáček’s opera. Těsnohlídek’s sombre and intimate lyricism was preoccupied by the themes of love and death, while largely devoid of specific locations. Yet in the opening verses of his poem "Na rozloučenou" ("Farewell") he touches on an event through which he left his indelible mark on Brno history: two days before Christmas Eve in 1919, while walking with two friends in the woods between Bílovice and Líšeň, he found and saved the life of a newborn baby (he later referenced the trial with the child’s wayward mother in his piece "Pod vánočním stromem" ("Under the Christmas Tree"; Lidové noviny 9. XI. 1920). Having been through this shocking experience, he initiated – inspired by Copenhagen – the tradition of putting up a ‘Christmas Tree of the Republic’ on Liberty Square in Brno (the first on 13 December 1924), with a charitable collection toward building an orphanage (the Dagmar Children’s Home in Brno-Žabovřesky opened in 1929 and continues to serve its purpose to this day).


The author and the places of his/her poems

Náměstí Svobody (Liberty Square)

The poem and the place


A kinsman to the Christmas tree am I,
which on the square I made from cobbles rise.
Like him, this land’s own son, I loved the day
with my hurt heart and whispered pleading sighs,
like him had grown to serve for others’ sake,
till by the grave atoned in light I’ll stand there glowing
a guiltless child once more, till tears come thawing,
from others’ eyes, which I to dry had ached.

I am so lightning-swiped, by fate down-weighed,
that the axe blow will light my sour demise;
I grew for pain though ne’er to hurting swayed.
In holy peace may the trunk moulder, prized!
I can no longer serve. Dead beat and drained
by clouds oppressive, making my roots rent.
Time to go back to ground. My journey spent,
prayers done, taught me by the years sustained.

I thank my love for living at my side,
while I was leaning, in my core slow ailing,
to her a hundred thanks, her gift supplied
in meagre casket placed; forgive the failing
tree fallen by her wayside, forgive me all,
whom I swathed with my shade, chill’s shawl a-weaving.
My time is here, and bids I must be leaving.
Brother of winter sings the last song’s call.

My guise returned will light your feast days, mild,
for a kind reminiscence meekly asking.
God will come to the world and be your child.

                                                                         translated by Václav Pinkava

Těsnohlídek, Rudolf: Rozbitý stůl (The broken table), ed. Miloslav Novotný, Praha: Fr. Borový 1935, pp. 31-32.


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

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