Ivan Blatný

Poet, son of the writer Lev Blatný (1894-1930). Born in Brno, he spent the first part of his life here – before escaping into exile in 1948. He lived in a house...

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František Halas

Poet, translator and publicist, Brno born, spent his childhood and youth here. He learned the bookseller’s trade from A. Píša and for a brief period (1919–1921)...

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Oldřich Mikulášek

Poet and publicist. Lived in Brno from 1937 until his death, latterly at Mášova street. He is linked to several cultural institutions (the Brno studios of Czechoslovak...

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Jaroslav Seifert

Poet, publicist, memoirist. The first – and so far the only Czech to receive the Nobel prize for Literature. In addition to the lasting popularity he won through...

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Jan Skácel

Poet, writer, editor and translator. Spent most of his life in Brno and is closely linked to a number of Brno cultural institutions (the magazine Host do domu...

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Vít Slíva

Poet and schoolteacher. His connection to Brno dates back to his university days. Apart from one interlude, he has been living to this day at Poděbradova street....

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Places (in alphabetical order)

Josef Merhaut

1863  –  1907

Prose writer, columnist and poet, organiser of Czech cultural life in Brno. Born in Zbiroh u Berouna, came to Brno as a journalist for the Moravská orlice (Moravian she-eagle) n 1885 and remained here until his untimely death. He swiftly made his mark as a prominent Brno journalist (from 1891 as the editor-in-chief of the Moravská orlice), as well as a theatre critic and novelist. He gave Brno its place in Czech literature through his naturalistic prose and his national-revivalist and social struggles (e.g. his book Černá pole /Black Fields, 1896), novels Andělská sonáta (Angel Sonata, 1900) and Vranov (1906)]. His Básně  (Poems), published posthumously by Miloslav Hýsek (1908) combine romantic and contemplative lyricism and valedictory poetry to mark various special occasions with Brno-specific observations. These include e.g. the no longer identifiable tree at Koliště (apparently on the site of today’s Janáček Theatre), a mute witness to one of his many infatuations – or the stone mill on the Svratka river (today’s Kamenomlýnská ulice / Stonemill street/), as well as occasional poetic inaugurations of the Vesna buildings on today’s Jaselská street. 

The author and the places of his/her poems

Černá Pole (Black Fields)

The poem and the place


To Alois Kalvoda

My sovereign and proud land of insularity
​above the city’s surf it stands, scar darkly grafted!
​My taciturn Christ stretched out of the soil here free,
from the earth’s squalid mud his arms sunward uplifted.

Remember, in that autumn how the heedless wind did blast,
from city lungs toward us as if blowing!
Nay, lad, the strong will not be in the dust downcast -
you’re sunward-bound too, even while over your work bowing.

And, brother, you came to see me in my black-loamed trails
more than mere colour and my heavy book to bear -
you too were seared by town air, sold-out and stale,
and your heart yearned for peace beyond all care -

Thus, out of the black earth some singular blooms grew yet,
and where the horizon bends in twisted elevation
somewhere out in the mist our souls sang a duet:
my word with your deep hue of quiet contemplation…

Merhaut, Josef: Básně (Poems), ed. by Miloslav Hýsek, Praha: Jan Otto 1908, p. 34.


Jiří Trávníček  -   travnicek@ucl.cas.cz
Michal Fránek  -   franek@ucl.cas.cz

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