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)

Zdeněk Kriebel

1911  –  1989

Born in Brno, studied law here and began working as a legal clerk. Moved to Prague aged 28, and after his legal work took up editorial work in 1956 for the SNDK, the State publishing house for children’ and as secretary of the Friends of Children’s Books Circle. Returned to Brno in 1961, initially to look after his ailing mother, but stayed for the rest of his life. The first and last of Kriebel’s three marriages were to opera singer Marie Podvalová; they are buried together at Prague’s Vyšehrad cemetery. He spent eleven years working in the Brno literary department of Czechoslovak Radio. His extensive body of poetic works was influenced by the avant garde (Polytonfox, 1932; Alarm, 1947) and neoclassical creative methods (e.g. S erbem lipového listu /Linden-leaf coat-of-arms/, 1940). He also devoted himself to works for children (e.g. Posměšky na plot /Sniggers for the fence/, 1964; Duhová brána /Rainbow gate/, 1977). His verses for children won him the International Andersen Prize.

The author and the places of his/her poems


The poem and the place

Spring in the suburbs

Where mallow, ribwort live, are kept,
they whitewash out the pauper word,
where lime-tree blossom bursts to drip,
the black-flamed poplar stands his guard 
o’er soot and hay, and fish asleep.
Chimneys, battlefield-cannon gaped,
by the rat-burrow menace, mean.
Spring – tight lipped, bodies passion-draped,
on Saturdays yards swept-out clean.

As love’s bread year by year grows harder through,
at this fine time grant them grace, heaven, do!

There in the opal lyre of Springs 
darkness on beggars’ hive-slits sits 
and roofs of derelict bare dwellings 
mute swallows’ chirps and dreamy flits
A bird, a breeze, as-ever telling.
There in the crystal brow of Springs 
the tress of leaves with tram sounds riding,
night, golf-flecked jaguar, runs rings 
around me, in parched branches hiding.

As the earth step by step grows harder through,
in your dun wrath grant them grace, heaven, do!

Then midnight draws the clock hands tight, 
the city like a horse unthinking 
round its eternal ring,
while the full moon rings out a-tinkling 
silver, their wages bring.
Wind, nudge the clock-hands forward, come,
you, cement works companion, slim.
Time will sip from their prison some,
when boilers boil over the brim.

As life’s bread year by year grows harder through,
in anxious sleep grant them grace, heaven, do!

                                               translated by Václav Pinkava

Kriebel, Zdeněk: Alarm. Praha: Svoboda 1947, pp. 8-9.


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

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