The Czech poet and translator Vladimir Holan died on March 31, 1980. Born in the outskirts of Prague on September 16, 1905, but raised in the countryside, he developed a peculiar poetic expression, expressing very dark and pessimistic views in his poems - something atypical of the literary current in whose style he wrote. It is part of Czech poeticism - a current in the style of surrealism, created in Prague in the 20s.

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In the 30s and 40s, Holan was committed to the socialist idea, spoke out against the Munich Agreement, and hailed the Soviet army as a liberator. He left the Catholic Church and became a member of the Communist Party. In 1932 he published his first book of poetry, which led the greatest Czech critic to compare him with Mallarmé. In 1949, apparently aware of what was really behind the communist idea, he left the party and returned to the church.


In the 50s and 60s he wrote mostly poems, mixing reality and abstraction. In English-speaking countries, he is best known for his post-war works, especially the poem Night with Hamlet, which remains the most frequently translated Czech poem. Winner of the Etna-Theormina Prize (1966), awarded the honorary title of People's Writer (1968) and a candidate for the Nobel Prize in 1969. After the Prague Spring, Holan's works became internationally known and were translated into many languages.


He spent the last years of his life in loneliness and poverty in the heart of Prague - the island of Kampa. He died in his apartment by the Valtava River and was buried in Olshani Cemetery. His poems have been translated into Bulgarian as part of anthologies with famous Czech poets. Night with Hamlet is published as a separate publication in Bulgaria. The poems we offer you are translated by Vatyo Rakovski and Dimitar Stefanov.




Christmas maiden tears fall on her chest
Slow sunset over the memory
Snow is falling, the moon is shining, you are walking in its light.




Moon of sea foam quiet rustling
In a Japanese fairy tale, it rains endlessly again
From your chair you stare at the rose
and the hills illuminated.




It's starting to snow at midnight. And it is known
that you feel best in the kitchen,
although it is a place of insomnia.
When you're warm, you'll cook something and drink wine,
and through the window in eternity you peer.
What to get out of and let the world blame you
lest life be a straight line.
What to bother with a look at the calendar,
to watch the days not to lose.
And what can you say to yourself that you don't have them
the money for Saskia's slippers?
And what to blow,
that you suffer more than others?


And there shall be no silence on the earth,
thirsty for the snowfall she came.
You are alone. No gestures. And nothing on display.




Matured by the train,
who takes the shadow for reality…
But she was really beautiful,
stood naked,
barefoot, without a hat, like an angel
here he has forgotten his head
and he left in a halo…


Nothing justifies the poet, not even his death.
And yet from its dangerous existence
they always remain somehow more
a few of his characters. And between them
it is not perfection, even with it paradise,
and the truth, even with it, is hell.




The teenager does not enter with impunity with light
in the cave of words… Bold, does not even suggest
where did he end up… Young, though suffering,
doesn't know what pain is… Prematurely masterful,
will escape without stepping inside,
and will be justified by the juvenile age века


The cave of words!…
Only the true poet at his own risk
wings will fly in it - and that,
which returns to gravity,
without harming the other, which attracts the earth…


The cave of words! Only the real poet
from her silence she returns,
to find, already old, a weeping child,
left by the world on her doorstep…




To Yaroslav Seifert


"How can you not be?" - you ask yourself and you will even say it…
The tree or the stone is silent,
even though they are of word and mean dumb,
because the word is horrified what happened to it…
But even now names they have. Names: pine,
maple, aspen… And names: basalt,
sandstone, phonolite, love… Great names,
only terrified what happened to them…




You don't know where the road comes from,
which leads nowhere.
You don't care, though, it was full of magic,
women, miracles and longing for freedom,
he saw that the horse under the angel had been killed,
the angel went on foot, here is the path of self-forgetfulness,
only then did he know the sorrow of man,
but also to God, who also seeks happiness,
this unhappily loving God…

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