Life taught me long ago
that music and poetry
are the most beautiful things on earth
that life can give us.
Except for love, of course.
In an old textbook
published by the Imperial Printing House
in the year of Vrchlický's death
I looked up the section on poetics
and poetic ornament.
Then I placed a rose in a tumbler,
lit a candle
and started to write my first verses.
Flare up, flame of words,
even if my fingers get burned!
A startling metaphor is worth more
than a ring on one's finger.
But not even Puchmajer's Rhyming Dictionary
was any use to me.
In vain I snatched for ideas
and fiercely closed my eyes
in order to hear that first magic line.
But in the dark, instead of words,
I saw a woman's smile and
That has been my destiny.
And I've been staggering towards it breathlessly
all my life.
Translated from the Czech by Ewald Osers
Seifert: 'My origians are proletarian and I thought of myself for a long time as a proletarian poet. But, as one grows older, one discovers different values and different worlds. For me, this meant that I discovered sensuality....All language can be thought of as an effort to achieve freedom, to feel the joy and sensuality of freedom. What we seek in language is the freedom to be able to express our most intimate thoughts. This is the basis of all freedom. In social life, it ultimately assumes the form of political freedom....When I write, I make an effort not to lie: that's all.'
Posted by keith armstrong at 9:36 pm