Farewell and a Handkerchief: Poems from the Road
Farewell and a Handkerchief, is composed of Czech Poet Vitězslav Nezval's reflections from his travels in 1933 to Paris, Avignon, Vienna, the Alps, Monaco, Méditerranée, Cannes, and Italy, including Venice and Napoli (Naples). He attempted to integrate everything he came into contact with, achieving a heightened sense of perceptive and imaginative reality. The collection is framed by the motif of a handkerchief, first appearing as a symbol of sadness while he was departing from his native land, "Today I'm leaving on the brink of tears," and reappearing at his return home from "magic" lands, once again to "tearfully admit my pain." However, travels also gave him a deep joy, and while the reader experiences the sense of sorrow, or in Czech, the feeling of lítost--the kind that Milan Kundera masterfully described in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting--Nezval's lítost is effervescent, joyful and positive. His return marks his thirty-third birthday, a significant milestone in his life. In this collection, the reader comes across unique associations, occasionally of hallucinating effects, but often presented in loving detail, and seen through the eyes of an innocent and yet thoroughly experienced admirer of the everyday. Nezval's poetic mind creates an evocative imagery of cities, countries, people, social reality of the rich and the poor, the good and the bad (such as approaching Nazism) in a stream of harmonic rhyming. The intentionally lacking punctuation creates a sense of unity of the world which surrounds him and which reminds him of existential reality, as in: Věř kdyz se láska poláme jak hračka je lépe nechat ji: "When love is broken like a porcelain dove/Just let it go!"
The last stanzas of the volume have become a credo for Czechs--they are reflected in songs, recited by school children, and quoted by young adults and old folks alike. It is precisely this simple beauty of life that Czechs admire in their beloved poets, and in Nezval in particular (Karen von Kunes, Yale University):
Farewell, and if we never meet
Our time was marvelous--we've shared enough
Farewell, and soon our trysts will be
With someone new, someone else's love
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About the Author
Nezval is a modern-day savage who tramples upon the strict canons of truth and beauty. His poetry offers a star the same priviledges of beauty as it would a molding apple left behind on a staircase.
- Milan Kundera, author of The Unbearable Lightess of Being
Kostovski's translation preserves the clarity and simplicity of Nezval's verse...
... A vibrant collection that introduces an Eastern European master to the West.
- Kirkus Review
In Farewell and a Handkerchief Nezval's poetic mind creates an evocative imagery of cities, coutries, people, social reality of the rich and the poor. the good and the bad (aproaching Nazism)in a stream of hamonic rhyming.
- Karen von Kunes, Yale University
Nezval was one of the great masters of true poetry of the twetieth century. He was great like Apollinaire, Jesenin, Mayakovsky and Éluard.
- Nazim Hikmet, Turkish poet, author of Life's Good Brother