An Anthology of Modern Bohemian Poetry/Ostrava

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Petr Bezruč (b. 1867).

 

OSTRAVA

 

A hundred years in silence I dwelt in the pit.
A hundred years I delved for coal in the ground,
And after a. hundred years my sinews were knit,
As if my fleshless arms by iron were bound.

The dust of the coal has settled upon my eyes,
And on my lips the coal is clustered around,
And on my hair and my beard and my brows there lies
The coal that like icicles hangs to the ground.

Bread with coal is the fruit that my toiling bore,
From labour to labour I go;
Palaces tower aloft by the Danube’s shore,
From my blood and my sweat they grow.

For a hundred years in the mine my murmurs I quelled;
Who will requite me those hundred years I have borne?
And when I threatened them with the hammer I held,
I heard the voice of one who laughed me to scorn.

I should find my senses and go to the mine once more,
And as of old for my masters I should toil;

I raised the hammer on high—in a trice the gore
Was flowing on Polish Ostrava's soil!

All ye that are in Silesia, all ye I say,
Whether Peter your name be or Paul,
The steel-wrought armour upon your breast ye must lay,
And thousands to battle must call.

All ye that are in Silesia, all ye I say,
Ye who over the depths your mastery wield,
From below come flame and smoke; and there comes a day,
There comes a day when a reckoning ye shall yield!

"Songs of Silesia" (1911).