Guests in Eden

In 1907, Antonin Klastersky, the Czech poet, included Emily Dickinson in his MODERNI POESIE AMERICKA, published in Prague. The three poems translated into Czechoslovakian with which Miss Dickinson took her bow in the old Bohemian capital and university town were: "Of all the souls that stand create" (titled, CHOICE) ; "They dropped like flakes, they dropped like stars" (THE BATTLEFIELD), and "On this wondrous sea" (ETERNITY). The works of our poets were channeled to Prague directly from America through the ardent friend of Czech poetry, Joseph E. Kohovni, of Bay City, Michigan. Forty years later, this volume of 1907 is still in circulation in the Czech language room of the Webster Branch of the New York Public Library. Emily Dickinson could not have had more sympathetic readers than the proud, gifted, implacably patriotic Czechs. Other Dickinson translations in that language were those by J. B. Capek. She gained in appreciation abroad. By 1934, she had outstripped all her contemporaries in the anthology of 1907. Professor Otakar Vocadlo, of Prague University, in his MODERN LITERATURE IN THE UNITED STATES (title translated), says, "The treasury of American poetry is Whitman, Poe, Dickinson." He gives a particularly fine cri­tique of Emily Dickinson, this "greatest poet of her sex," of whom there were two appreciations in Europe before she was evaluated in her own country. Her Czech readers love her as a philosopher, a rebel. They turn to the poems on love, war, death: "Bereaved of all, I went abroad," "To fight aloud is very brave." They value her for her integrity, her suffering, her triumphant struggle against personal circumstances, the tragic note as well as the enchantment of her verses. They appraise her as a great artist in words.

The publication Of THE SINGLE HOUND, FURTHER POEMS, and Conrad Aiken's SELECTED POEMS OF EMILY DICKINSON published in London had a marked influence abroad.

France has known something of Emily Dickinson from the beginning. Readers of the Revue des Deux-Mondes have long been familiar with her name, through essays and reviews. She is represented in at least two current French anthologies of

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Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved.
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Last updated on March 10, 2008

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