The Soul Of A Century/Tales from our village

The Soul Of A Century  (1943) 
Tales from our village
by Vítězslav Hálek, translated by Roderick Aldrich Ginsburg

First 8 stanzas from the first poem Naše vesnice of the original collection Pohádky z naší vesnice.


My dear old Hamlet in the dreamy peaceful plain,
When I, a weary wanderer, behold you in your place,
I know you gleam to welcome me home again
Like a smile that wreathes a mother’s wrinkled face.

I walk between your cottages and gaze;
Where’er I look, part of my heart exclaims with glee.
From every corner dash forth my bygone youthful days,
My soul once more feels the force of youth set free.

All is so known . . . The herdsman with his flock
Tips low his cap and in memories goes back;
My friend, your storie’s unexhausted stock
I see it in your eyes, still lives intact.

A grave digger goes by with song and spade
To dig anew where an old grave stood alone.
My friend, recall how often you I bade
To tell who slept beneath each weathered stone.

A wagon passes through the waving field,
I know each path, each meadow far and wide
From whence the nightingale to heavens oft appealed
And the quail cried out in unrestricted pride.

A fiddler passes . . . the man can barely see,
I know each mood his ancient fiddle told.
The brawls today are’nt what they used to be,
And as for songs, you cannot beat the old.

A mother with her babe comes by, and pays no heed,
A maid with eyes that speak of secret strife,
Each face seems like an open book, I read,
Inscribed therein, my entire former life.

When the bells ring of an evening from the belfry top
Their tones as warm as dearly treasured friends,
When their echoes keep repeating without pause or stop
I hear therein, the beats that my heart sends.

 This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.


This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was legally published within the United States (or the United Nations Headquarters in New York subject to Section 7 of the United States Headquarters Agreement) between 1928 and 1977 (inclusive) without a copyright notice.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1987, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 35 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.