The generous country

What wondrous life is this I lead!
Ripe apples drop about my head;
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine;
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach;
Stumbling on melons as I pass
Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass

from The Garden, Andrew Marvell

I don’t think I’ve been to another country so sheerly generous in its municipal gardening. All the countryside roads are lined with walnut, pear, apple, cherry and plum trees, planted for no reason I can see other than to delight wanderers like me. Even Petrin hill in the centre of Prague is covered with orchards where anyone can pick what they like. In such a warm bountiful Autumn as this one the whole Czech Republic feels like Marvell’s garden, where as I pass I stumble, if not on melons, then on more varieties of pear and apple than can be counted on fingers and toes; red and gold and bronze, round and oval and tear-drop shaped; satiny yellow pears tiny as walnuts, fat heavy pale green ones you can hardly hold in two hands. Everywhere a fruity, slightly rotting smell, through which I wander drunk as a wasp on sweetness, wanting to drink it all in before the warmth goes and winter sets in.

This country is equally profligately littered with castles. Conveniently disregarding any historical fact, it seems an enchanted, fairytale land of princesses in high towers and knights traversing beech woods as golden as old icons; where bright village boys gather the apples of paradise and a Czech Cinderella hoards her three magic nuts, in which are three dresses woven of sunbeams, of moonshine, of dreaming starlight.

Sovinec, Moravia

Sovinec, Moravia


5 Responses to “The generous country”

  1. 1 oleksiy October 12, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Lily, so, what can i say – glad seeing you on European space, i permanetly reading your texts but had no courage to say that. hope to see you in Kiev. I just have seen some georgian film like Bunins “okajannine dni” – something about the time that stroke me greatly. Sorry for bothering you. 😦


  2. 2 oleksiy October 20, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Lily, in order to apologize for not a actually consistent comment, I’d like pay attention to this phenomena of magical coziness of Czech emanation and as a consequence of its depiction – I see it and feel it in your story, remembering short Flash clips from (“samorost-ness” 🙂 and do you remember that the plot ignition was stealing of pears and dog that guarded them, besides recalling as in young age I read Gashik’s “Adventures of the Brave Soldier Shveik” – it was isle of calmness and cozy space created by reading, submersion into something warm in spite of real description of war. I wonder what is it that creates such a feeling – or it is utterly personal feeling inherent to some human types. May be it is some type of earth energy – radiating this. By the way there is tradition of medieval miner pictures – dwarfs digging precious stones and as I know they (Czechs) still mine these riches of the earth. That is there is something that creates – accumulates or sublimates spirit of earth and determines other physical and not only physical manifestations.


  3. 3 rambutanchik October 21, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Hi Lyosha! I’d forgotten about ‘samorost’. but yes, i think there is something intrinsically, domestically magical about the Czech landscape (mental and physical) – something small and neat and yet utterly odd and wild. I think that’s why I love it so much. You know Hasek lived a life even more mad and odd than anything he wrote in ‘Svejk’. And think of Svankmajer.. Interesting to wonder what inspires this kind of strange, gentle anarchy.

    what’s the georgian film? I’m reading ‘Okayannye Dni’ (in Russian- slowly!) on your recommendation…


    • 4 oleksiy October 23, 2009 at 9:55 am

      Lily, I tried to upload this film for you at the, but failed because of the huge volume (1,3Gbyte). So I just can tell its title in Russian – “Izbrannik” (film director – Michail Kalatosischvili). This movie imprints strong feeling of bloody absurdity of October revolution in Georgia. It strongly reflects Georgian spirit in perception of world and Georgian attitude to what they perceive as world. It could be called as derisive, grotesque depiction of serious things of life and death level. But it is not derision – it is such a perception, it is spirit of nation expressed through the idea of obsession by the World Revolution, by the acute desire to reconstruct and renovate its world.
      I will try to make another attempt to upload this film for you and inform you if I will manage.

      On your comment relating Hasek – I thought, but actually recalled what I known before that writing sometimes and not only, may be always, is constructing of ideal dream world for writer-creator to reside. That is he creates world of future and not only future life because through writing he sublimes, elevates inconvenient reality to higher, maybe transcend level. That is writing is kind of alchemy of selftranscending 🙂

      On your previous post concerning travel writing and shining conclusion of this post – that it is not the main thing to travel and fix experience but to try to see everyday life in everyday milieu as new and perceptually fresh in order to induce spirit of desire to write and fix as in travel through world. Relating it I recently found one interesting writer that impressed me greatly – I felt some resonance with his texts – his name is Tod Greenaway ( Do you heard about or read him?


  4. 5 rambutanchik October 26, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    The film sounds great. you know this longing to reconstruct the world and achieve paradise, perfection, through revolution and through art, is what my current book is about (if I ever finish it…)

    I love what you say about writing being self-transcendence.
    I also think that some people make their lives into a work of art, and others make a work of art to replace their lives. And some, like Hasek, try to do both.

    There’s a Hrabal book (more Czechs!) with a woman in it who after never reading a book in her life becomes the sort of person other people write books about..

    Never heard of Tod Greenaway before but have been looking at the site – what I’ve read so far I like very much, thanks for the recommendation


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