The Love Song of Otakar Svec

Original Text: 

Shane Neilson. Love Songs in A Czech Winter. Toronto, Ontario: Cactus Press. 2011

                       Svec won a competition to build the then-biggest
                       monument to Stalin in Prague. He never saw the unveiling.
                       His wife, Vlasta, predeceased him.
1My dear,
2It is not fair to speak of dreams.
3I entered the competition, and now
4it is not a statue I build, but an effigy.
5I have wondered how to make terror
6touch Stalin’s brow, but I am on such
7a scale that detail is contrary to purpose.
8I jest, Vlasta, if we were able we would
9sneak past the guards and write
10PLEASE on Stalin’s knee.
11But you are not here, and I dream of you,
12I would build a statue of perfect form,
13with your horrified face, and erect it opposite
14the other statue. A staring contest!
15In a few weeks they will finish it,
16every man quivering with the party’s reception,
17and I confess I do not care,
18I had your reaction every day, and it is gone,
19I have only communism to look at the ceiling at night.
20I am sure you thought it best,
21and these notes are usually for the living,
22but I write for the dead. When people
23see the statue, I hope they see fear –
24the fear of the man who made a Stalin,
25the fear that makes me go.
RPO poem Editors: 
Jim Johnstone
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

Poem used with permission of the author.