An Anthology of Modern Bohemian Poetry/Our Native Tongue

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Svatopluk Čech (1846—1908).

 

OUR NATIVE TOUNGUE

 
Power and fame and wealth—of all these things what doth to us remain?

Our native tongue.


What with a single shield did guard us in the wearisome campaign?

Our native tongue.



Let with a heavenly music sound, o'er half the world its mastery wield,

A foreign tongue.


Queen of them all is in our eyes, and unto none the palm shall yield,

Our native tongue.


And tho' it were a beggar-girl, and nothing but a maiden spurned—

Our native tongue.

It is our will that it may to a glorious princess be turned—

Our native tongue.


Be thou the apple of our eye, be thou to us more dear than all—

Our native tongue.


And never thro' our failing care, upon it shall a shadow fall—

Our native tongue.


There has no compact e'er been made, that can impose a price to pay

On our native tongue.


Rather would we all surrender, than a jot should go astray

From our native tongue.


{{Nay, ne'er shall be with our consent surrendered to an overlord,

Our native tongue.

This sacred tongue's eternal rights shall ne'er by aught except the sword

From us be wrung.


Ne'er shall it retreat, but ever farther onwards must it go—

Our native tongue.


Ever higher must ascend, and ever more serenely glow—

Our native tongue!

 

"New Songs" (1888).