Excerpts


Jaroslav Seifert

Song

We wave a handkerchief
on parting
every day something is ending
something beautiful's ending.

The carrier pigeon beats the air
returning;
with hope or without hope
we're always returning.

Go dry your tears
and smile with eyes still smarting
every day something is starting
something beautiful's starting.

(In: The poetry of Jaroslav Seifert, translated by Ewald Osers)


Bohumil Hrabal

Too Loud a Solitude

(passage)

For thirty-five years now I have been in wastepaper, and it is my love story. For thirty-five years I've been compacting wastepaper and books, smearing myself with letters until I've come to look like my encyclopedias---and a good three tons of them I've compacted over the years. I am a jug filled with water both magic and plain; I have only to lean over a stream of beautiful thoughts flows out of me. My education has been so unwitting I can't quite tell which of my thoughts come from me and which from my books, but that's how I've stayed attuned to myself and the world around me for the past thirty-five years. Because when I read, I don't really read; I pop a beautiful sentence into my mouth and suck it like a fruit drop, or I sip it like a liqueur or I sip it like a liqueur until the thought dissolves in me like alcohol, infusing brain and heart and coursing on through the veins to the root of each blood vessel.

(translated by Michael Henry Heim)


Milan Kundera

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

(passage)

What remains of the dying population of Cambodia?
One large photograph of an American actress holding an Asian child in her arms.
What remains of Tomas?
An inscription reading HE WANTED THE KINGDOM OF GOD ON EARTH.
What remains of Beethoven?
A frown, an improbably mane, and an somber voice intoning Es muss sein!
What remains of Franz?
An inscription reading A RETURN AFTER LONG WANDERINGS.
And so on and so forth. Before we are forgotten, we will be turned into kitsch. Kitsch is the stopover between being and oblivion.

(Translated by Michael Henry Heim)

Last update: 16.8.2011 16:00

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