Sunday, 11 August 2013

PRAGUE SPOTLIGHT: Mácha Statue At Petřín Hill

Prague, July 11, 2013

After finishing our light dinner at Fat Mouse Restaurant, George and I had a walk at Petřín hill rising in the left bank of the Vltava River. This hill which almost entirely covered by parks is the most favorite recreational area for Prague residents.

For me, the most remarkable spot at this hill is the statue erected in the honor of Karel Hynek Mácha, a genius Czech national romantic poet. Beside this statue, there are another bronze statue of him in front of a theater named after him in Litomerice.

His master piece was his lyrical epic poem titled "Máj" (May), published in 1836. That poet is now regarded as the classic work of Czech Romanticism and is considered one of the best Czech poems ever written. It is one of few Czech poems virtually everybody can recite the first stanza of.

Byl pozdní večer - první máj -
večerní máj - byl lásky čas.
Hrdliččin zval ku lásce hlas,
kde borový zaváněl háj.
O lásce šeptal tichý mech;
květoucí strom lhal lásky žel,
svou lásku slavík růži pěl,
růžinu jevil vonný vzdech.
Jezero hladké v křovích stinných
zvučelo temně tajný bol,
břeh je objímal kol a kol;
a slunce jasná světů jiných
bloudila blankytnými pásky,
planoucí tam co slzy lásky.

Late evening, on the first of May—
The twilit May—the time of love.
Meltingly called the turtle-dove,
Where rich and sweet pinewoods lay.
Whispered of love the mosses frail,
The flowering tree as sweetly lied,
The rose's fragrant sigh replied
To love-songs of the nightingale.
In shadowy woods the burnished lake
Darkly complained a secret pain,
By circling shores embraced again;
And heaven's clear sun leaned down to take
A road astray in azure deeps,
Like burning tears the lover weeps.

Mácha  died young, as poets "should", and became an immensely popular patron of lover. Because the dark, romantic and tragic love story of Mácha's poem takes place precisely on May unlike many other countries, instead of to celebrate May 1st as Labor Day, Czech people celebrate this day as Lover's Day. They don't need Valentine - recent Anglo-Saxon import. Moreover they don't want to praise love in the middle of freezing February :P

On May 1st Czech people will indulge in a more romantic undertaking. Many couples will flock to Mácha statue, bring flowers and kiss as they should.  There’s a nice, romantic ritual connected with it, concerning women. It is imperative that each woman, regardless her age, gets kissed under a blooming cherry tree – otherwise she could “dry out” within a year.

Well, I guess I should try to go back to this hill on upcoming May 1st and get a romantic kiss then.. <3<3<3



To see the whole poem and also the translation with illustrations by a distinguished Czech painter too, you could check this web out

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