Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Child of Prague (In memory of Franz Kafka)

Born before your own country
Gifted child of Prague,
Son of an animal butcher
You got little chance to brag
Of vision or hunger or trial
Or escape from semi-dead,
Confined and often tortured
By the strictures in your head.

Peter Parler’s Bohemian bridge
You ambled across by glow of moon
Fragments of thoughts and images
Of jackdaw, love and lagoon.
You saw what mortals seldom see
Rejection and ultimate loss
And Gregor matched your solemn step
Crushing apple and cross.

Almost always lost in thought
Spectral visions manifest in words,
Not so simple, simple things
Suspended on trapeze of raven birds
Whose cacophony clapped hands on ears
The sounds you couldn't drown out,
Like the soundings of a rejecting father,
Powerful presence, negative clout.

Your head was full, your golden gullet
With blockage no country doctor could cure,
Penal colony of body and soul,
Mouse chorus under the floor.
The Lord of Lords intervened
And took you into His care,
Death cures all ills of body and mind,
Metamorphosis; foul dust to fresh air.

Sketch by Barry-John after Helena Vlcnovska.


  1. Great sensitivity toward the subject. This can be felt. The inclusion of Kafka's own titles in the poem made it all the more a tribute, all the more moving. I think professors should read this poem to students as an illuminating "classic." I hope this one becomes part of history. Very compassionate, finely tuned, beautiful.

  2. Turquoise, it is obvious that you are a serious fan of Kafka. We are greatly heartened by your comment, however unmerited. We plan to visit Prague next summer and revisit his hometown again. Our sincerest thanks. P+P.