The HyperTexts

VZJ Pinkava

Václav Z J Pinkava is Czech poet who was born in Prague in 1958. He is the eldest son of the eponymous Czech polymath, alias Jan Křesadlo. He lived in England from 1969 to1991, and attended the Queen's College, Oxford from 1977 to 1982. In 1982 he embarked on a professional career in ICT, spanning firms public and private, large and small, on both sides of the industry, including six years with The Post Office while it was being quasi-privatised, and seven years with Unilever, in CEE. A British/Czech dual national, dual native-speaker, he returned to the Czech Republic in 1992, initially as an expat. Most recently he has spent almost five years in Czech media top management.  Married since 1985, he has four children. He is also a resident and former independent local councillor of the village of Bohdalec in Moravia, although he has never been a political party member. His interests include IT, business management, painting, music, chess, poetry translations, and his own bilingual poetry.

I prefer to translate what others wrote,
having to eek out what their words denote;
follow in footsteps suitably impressed,
a hermit socialite, with ghosts possessed.
Sometimes I find a rare, unusual gem
on which to exercise my stratagem
to make the scarcely known, known scarcely more, 
translated into Czech, a tongue obscure.

There must be many poets, I suspect,
far too obscure for me to find, elect;
the kindred souls I find, whose words I speak,
are butterflies—not just in ancient Greek.

Ballade: Du Concours De Blois
by François Villon
translated by VZJ Pinkava

I thirst to death next to the fountain's spray,
I burn like flame my teeth by chatt'ring rent;
In my own land I am an emigré;
Next to the blazing hearth by shivering spent;
I am worm-naked, fine-dressed as a gent;
I laugh in tears, enduring hopeless lows;
Comfort obtain as sad despair does grow;
Pleasures don't satisfy, or bring me fun;
Strong without force of arms or power to throw,
Warmly received, dismissed by everyone.

I am not sure, until I'm cast away,
I am unclear, where all is evident;
I only doubt the certain, trust the grey;
Knowledge obtain from sudden accident;
I win, keep playing on, all winnings spent;
At daybreak "Goodnight all!" I say and go,
When lying prone, I fear of vertigo;
I'm well to do, while chattels I have none;
I am an heir unwilled, to none I know,
Warmly received, dismissed by everyone.

Nothing I care, painstaking on my way
Much to beget, to claim it reticent;
Who praises me, on him the blame I lay,
Who speaks most earnest is most crooked, bent;
A friend is he who brings the sentiment
That the white swan is but a charcoal crow,
Who to empower me offers me a blow.
Truth makes no odds to me, all said and done.
I retain all, mindful of nothing, though,
Warmly received, dismissed by everyone.


Kindly prince, let the record duly show:
Though much I see, no sense do I allow;
Though I take sides, there's no side that I shun.
What next to do? Claim back my keep somehow,
Warmly received, dismissed by everyone.


Through concrete burrows, steel-shod spiral stairs,
far balladeers sing of old love-affairs.


He has upset her.
He is made aware.
He fails to see just what and where and when,
but most of all the why.
The word is "Care!"
He does.
He says he's sorry.
Lost again.

She is upset with what he failed to do.
So many times before.
She feels bereft.
So thoughtless, mean?
Simply has no clue!
The opposite of right?
Not wrong?
Then left.


I'd see the plain white page, and off I'd set
my mind on skis, my writing in my wake
and then they'd start, the snowflakes of regret
exquisite imperfection in each flake

perfect in makeup, form, geometry
precious in fragile lacework crystal sheen
starry in subtle fronds of symmetry
weightless, but weighing more than I will mean...

Frosting my head, lost hopes did mask my trail
covered in doubts my once-so-certain track
the bridle path beneath her snowy veil
still heading whither there's no turning back.

I see the glaring page, now leave it plain
potently unfulfilled, not scored in vain.

The HyperTexts