"Five Minutes After the air Raid", is a poignant and nostalgic evocation of a woman who loses everything after her home and family are destroyed by a bomb.
The poem is written by Miroslav Holub, who skilfully balances the use of a factual journalistic tone with striking and at times shocking imagery, which combined evoke strong reactions in the reader. The encompassing sensation of horror and tragedy, are profoundly characteristic of Holub's entire oeuvre. He was renowned for his humour in the face of tragedy, but there is a very pronounced lack of it in this instance.
Holub always maintained that his own personal objective was to speak out about widespread mortal suffering, and to steer clear of writing for the sake of making large rhetorical gestures. He said in one article:
"Only by capturing life around us we may be able to express its dynamics, the immense developments, rolling on around us and within us,".
These objectives, required that Holub sacrificed the more structural techniques such as rhyming regular melodic poetry in favour of the irregular and free verse. His methods gave a new lease of life to old ideas, and encouraged a fresh style of imaginative freedom. Five minutes after the air raid, is a perfect example of this. It manages to convey its intellectual message clearly and concisely through very accessible colloquial language. Holub said after writing this work,
"I prefer to write for people untouched by poetry,".
The enormity of his work is made all the more remarkable, when the perpetual struggles of his own life are taken into consideration. Holub was as renowned for the hardships of his personal life as well as his signature poetic technique. Born in Plzen Western Bohemia in 1923, Holub, a practising scientist in the field of immunology as well as a poet and a writer was unable to attend university until after the war had ended as the Nazis had closed down all Czech universities for the duration of the occupation. After...
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