Miroslav Holub's 'Napoleon'.

Miroslav Holub (1923-1998)

Holub lived in Prague, and worked as an immunologist. He wrote a paper called ‘The Immunology of Nude Mice’. His obituary appeared in the New York Times.

He also wrote wonderful poems. This one works like a pebble dropped into a still pool. If you let it, both the wit and the critical point will make themselves apparent.

This translation is taken from ‘The Poetry of Survival; Post-War Poets of Central and Eastern Europe’, edited by Daniel Weissbort. (Anvil 1991)

If you think your interest in 20th century poetry is serious, especially if you’re an English speaker, i cannot reccomend this book too highly. It is worth whatever it costs. As an introduction to a wealth of great poets and poems it is priceless.