Obligatory Mácha Post

It's 1 May, which means that it's time for another annual installment of Karel Hynek Mácha's poem May. I will only be quoting the first fourteen lines because that's all your average Czech knows, which means that they can sell postcards like the one to the left featuring lines from a poem featuring patricide, suicide, execution by Catherine wheel, and a whole whack of existential angst.

It was late eve - the first in May –
Eve in May - it was love’s hour.
The turtle-dove’s voice called to love,
Where the pine grove wafting lay.
Love whispered soft the quiet moss;
The blossoming tree lied love’s woe,
The nightingale sang love to the rose,
The rose’s shown by an odorous sigh.
Smooth the lake in shadow’d bushes
Darkly sounded secret pain,
The shore embraced it round and again;
And the bright suns of other worlds
Wandered through the azure zones,
Burning there like tears of love.
Translation by James Naughton. The rest of the poem in both English and the original is here.

The cartoon to the right is by Franťa Bídlo, I think. It's from the 1936 centennial of Mácha's death because if you're a poet your death matters far more than your life. Unlike Lermontov, Mácha's death was a bit more prosaic. He died from cholera the day before he was scheduled to go to Prague and marry his girlfriend. He was also obscenely young when he bit it.

Happy May Day to you!

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