Jiří Karásek ze Lvovic: Translated by V Z J Pinkava

BIO250px-Jiri_Karasek_ze_Lvovic_1930

Jiří Karásek ze Lvovic (January 24, 1871 – March 5, 1951, Prague) was a Czech poet, writer and  literary criticHe studied theology at the Theological faculty in Prague, but he did not complete. Thereafter, he left Czechia for one year and after his return he started working as a clerk in the post office. Soon after, he was appointed director of the library of the Ministry of Post, and director of the Postal Museum and Archive. In 1894 he founded, together with Ernst Stroll, the well known magazine Modern Review, in which he published mainly Czech and French decadent literature and art.

Karásek was also a writer, author of many poems and prose works. Some of his novels are now categorized as science-fiction literature. Almost forgotten, he died in Prague in 1951 of pneumonia.

 

 

 

BIOPinkava

Václav Z. J. Pinkava was born in 1958 in Prague (Czechoslovakia, as was then). He emigrated in 1969 to Britain, growing up there and completing his education at Oxford. He followed this with a career in IT management, latterly as a professional translator, having moved back to the Czech Republic in 1992 with his wife and four children.
Native in English and Czech, he writes poetry in either language whenever moved to do so, but loves translating the poetic works of others; nearly 500 English poems to date.
He has published the first ever Czech rendition of Lewis Carroll’s ‘The Hunting of the Snark’ as well as (yet another) complete set of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

 

(All poems written in the original Czech by Jiří Karásek ze Lvovic and translated into English by V Z J Pinkava)

 

Nejhlubší marnost

Ne, není smutno pouze duším těm,
jež v závojích slz hledí hořce k jitru.
Je hlubší smutek těch, kdo s úsměvem
jdou světem, tmu však věčnou mají v nitru.

Polibek nikdy nezranil rtů jich
svou dýkou kruté něhy. Beze změny
jich čelo nese nezbrázděný sníh
těch plání, jež jsou věčně opuštěny.

Vždy sami pro sebe svůj měli žal
a vždycky sami prostřed lidí žili.
Jich nikdo nezradil a nezklamal.

Tak hasli zvolna v dnech svých lhostejných.
Sny jich jak klubko pohozené byly,
a nikdo nikdy nerozvinul jich.

 

Deepest Futility

Nay, sadness troubles not just souls whose woes
in veils of tears gaze bitter at the dawn.
More ingrained grief the smiling-faced enclose,
who trundle on, deep ever-darkness borne.

No kiss as yet has hurt their lips, with pain
of daggered cruel kindness. No change, where
their brows unmarked, smooth as a snowy plain
forever empty lie, forsaken, bare.

They kept just to themselves alone their rue,
while they, in mankind’s midst, kept up the tone.
No one betrayed them, nor let down, quite true.

Their embers waned, no days of theirs laid claim.
Their dreams a jumbled ball, downcast and thrown,
which to unravel no one ever came.

 

Kalný západ

Jak trosky zčernalé ze spáleného vraku
v klín moře vmetené, jež krví ostrou víří,
v hořící karmíny, v jichž tónech západ hýří,
kles smutek bizarních a roztříštěných mraků.

A v jeden akvarel skvrn rozteklých teď splývá
krev s černí spálenou a karmín s línou šedí,
a slunce vyrudlé jak plátek staré mědi
se kalné, morózní a znavené v kraj dívá.

Zvon zvuků kovový a tvrdý táhle, dlouze
v pláň mrtvou, v sítinách kde žabí checht zní pouze,
jak vzduchem utuhlým a zhuštěným se vleče.

Šeď těžké únavy se slévá v tempu líném
v mou duši chorobnou a otrávenou spleenem,
proud barev špinavých tak zvolna do ní teče…

.

Mired West

Like the black debris of a wreck, burnt out,
wedge-hurled to sea in acrid bloody craze,
inflamed in carmine hues, the west ablaze,
down-plunged the sable of quirk-scattered cloud.

Now one blotched watercolor, seeping, seen
blood blends burnt black, carmine with otiose gray,
the sun, red-blanched like an old copper tray
mired and morose and languid scans the scene.

A peel of bells, metallic, hard, prolonged,
draws o’er the dead plain’s reeds where frog smirks sound,
drags by, through stiffened-up and thickened air.

Deep fatigue’s drabness cast at tawdry pace
into my soul, ailing with gloom’s malaise,
and murky-color dregs slow-fill despair…

 

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