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Showing posts from January 1, 2017

Jaroslav Seifert ‘Prague’ (1929)

The presence of castle and cathedral on the hill above the Vltava in Prague is a constant imaginative prompt. Franz Kafka understood instinctively how the castle, despite its magnificent outward appearance, was the unanswerable site and source of control over human life. The castle in ‘The Castle’ is that which manages people’s business and permanently tracks, like today’s online agencies, their individual thoughts and actions. There is no escape, there are only ways of living with its imposing reality. Jaroslav Seifert writes a poem, in the same decade as the publication of Kafka’s novel, with a very different take on Hradcany. Above the elephantine blankets of flower-beds a Gothic cactus blooms with royal skulls and in the cavities of melancholy organs             in the clusters of tin pipes, old melodies are rotting. Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world. Elephantine is apt in the context, whether describing the renowned decorative flowerbed