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Bottle Return

When I was in the Czech Republic in March 2007, I went to see a movie called Vratné lahve, which in Czech means “Bottle Return” — although they titled the movie “Empties” in English. There’s a unique feature of Czech supermarkets, a bottle return department, where you return glass bottles of juice, water, and especially beer, and they are returned to the bottling company to be washed a reused without going through an American-style crushing and remanufacturing process. The movie centers around a fellow who loses his job as a teacher of literature and finds work as the man in the bottle return booth at a local supermarket. In the opening sequence of the film, the man is reading a poem to his class, Za trochu lásky… by Jaroslav Vrchlický.

Za trochu lásky šel bych svĕta kraj,
šel s hlavou odkrytou a šel bych bosý,
šel v ledu – ale v duši vĕčný máj,
šel vichřicí – však slyšel zpívat kosy,
šel pouští – a mĕl v srdci perly rosy.
Za trochu lásky šel bych svĕta kraj,
jak ten, kdo zpívá u dveří a prosí.

I’ve been looking for an English translation of this poem since I saw the movie, and thanks to the help of the linguaphiles community of LJ, and my Czech friend Dana, I now have one!

For a bit of love, I would go to the end of the world,
I would go bareheaded and I would go barefoot,
I would go through the ice - but with eternal May in my soul,
I would go through the storm - but would hear blackbirds singing,
I would go into the wilderness – and would have of pearls or dew in the heart
For a bit of love, I would go to the end of the world,
as one who sings begging at the door.

Na zdraví!

Originally published at HydricAcid. You can comment here or there.

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