Sirens pour dark sound
Remedios Varo, Plant architecture, 1962, public domain.

Language: Czech
Poet: Jan Skácel
Translator: Daniela Kukrechtová
Region: Czech Republic

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Sirens pour dark sound

A poem by Jan Skácel, translated from Czech by Daniela Kukrechtová

Jan Skácel was a Czech poet who was born in 1922 in the small Moravian village of Vnorovy. He moved to Brno to study and spent the rest of his life there. Between 1957 and 1969, he published several collections and became the editor-in-chief of a monthly journal Host do domu (Welcome, Guest). After the Soviet occupation of 1969, the Communist regime prevented him from publishing in Czechoslovakia. Some of his work was published in samizdat and abroad. The loosening of restrictions in the 1980s allowed him to publish books of older poems before his death in 1989. The poem in this issue was first published in Host do domu in 1962. In the same year, Skácel included it in a collection of poems called Hodina mezi psem a vlkem (The Hour between Dog and Wolf).

Daniela Kukrechtová was born in Brno, Czech Republic in 1972. She translates from Czech into English and writes poetry in English. She received a PhD in American Literature from Brandeis University and is currently an adjunct professor at Emerson College. 

Naše zcela obyčejné město

Hle, práce končí
a naše zcela obyčejné město
tu stojí jako srnec v jarním žitě.

Popelky rozbíjejí oříšky
a jdou
(v šatech tak zpěvně získaných)
do ulic vraždit
překrásné spící důstojníky.

Sirény hrnou temný zvuk
a Brno je plné růžové vody.
Vně toho hlasu
zůstávám barbar s klíčem od bytu.

Miluji srst a horké čenichání
nad střechami domů.
Mám rád tu chvíli,
kdy hyacintový křik dětí
probudí večer–

a sladká úzkost v krvi oznamuje,
že teplé zvíře chleba přišlo do města.

Our Quite Ordinary City

Look, work ends
and our quite ordinary city
stands here like a deer in spring rye.

Cinderellas break nuts
and go
(in dresses so melodiously acquired)
into the streets to murder
marvelous sleeping officers.

Sirens pour dark sound
and Brno is full of rose water.
Outside that voice
I remain a barbarian with a house key.

I love fur and fervent sniffing
above the roof tops.
I like the moment
when the hyacinth cry of children
wakes the evening—

and a sweet ache in blood announces
that the warm beast of bread has arrived in the city.

This poem was published in Issue 6 of Circumference, Volume 3, Issue 2 • Autumn 2007 © 2007 circumference, Inc.