Skip to content

Featured Anthology: Staying Alive – Miroslav Holub

November 22, 2007
by

The fourth poet to feature from Staying Alive is Miroslav Holub, who was one of the Czech Republic’s most important poets and also a leading scientist (specialising in immunology). He died in 1998, leaving behind a legacy of work in both the artistic and scientific worlds. The scientist’s logic undoubtedly informs his poetic work, sometimes mathematical in their analogies but maintaining a bond with humanity. It is also characteristic of his poetry not to rhyme, lending itself to be easily translated (his work has been translated into thirty languages).

Scientists and poets share a similar curiosity about the world around them. Holub expects his readers to be curious in every direction, to leave nothing unquestioned and take nothing for granted. ‘The Door’ is typical of Holub’s sense of irony, an openness and wit that is contrasted with ethical severity, his insistence that we learn humility and above all an awakening of ourselves.

The Door

Go and open the door.
    Maybe outside there’s 
    a tree, or a wood,
    a garden,
    or a magic city.

Go and open the door.
    Maybe a dog’s rummaging.
    Maybe you’ll see a face,
or an eye,
or the picture
                        of a picture.

Go and open the door.
    If there’s a fog
    it will clear.

Go and open the door.
    Even if there’s only
    the darkness ticking,
    even if there’s only
    the hollow wind,
    even if
                 nothing
                               is there,
go and open the door.

At least
there’ll be
a draught.

translated from the Czech by Ian Milner

(This poem is reproduced with permission from Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times (2002, Bloodaxe Books), edited by Neil Astley.)

About these ads

Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 449 other followers

%d bloggers like this: