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Jaroslav Vrchlicky - To Be A Poet

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To Be a Poet

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 Vrchlickys 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,
and soar,
even if my fingers get burned!

A startling metaphor is worth more
than a ring on ones finger.
But not even Puchmajers Rhyming Dictionary
was any used 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 womans smile and
wind-blown hair.

That has been my destiny.
And Ive been staggering towards it breathlessly
all my life.

Jaroslav Vrchlicky
Czech poet of the nineteenth century

Translated by Ewald Osers

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