Brief reflection on an old woman with a barrow

By Miroslav Holub 1923–1998 Miroslav Holub
Given an old woman and given a barrow.
I.e. the system old woman O and barrow B.

The system is moving from the paved yard Y to the corner C,
    from the corner C to the Stone S, from the stone S
    to the forest F, from the forest F to the horizon H.

The horizon H is the point where vision ends
    and memory begins.

Nevertheless the system is moving
    at a constant velocity v,
    along a constant path,
    through a constant destiny,
renewing its impulse and its meaning
    from within itself.

A relatively independent system:
in landscapes from horizon to horizon
always just one old woman with a barrow.

And thus we have, once and for all,
    that geodetic unit, the
    unit of travel there and back, the
    unit of autumn, the
    unit Our daily bread, the
    unit of wind and lowering sky, the
    unit of the distance home, the
    unit As we forgive them, the
    unit of nightfall, the
    unit of footsteps and dust, the
    unit of life-fulfillment Amen.

Miroslav Holub, “Brief reflection on an old woman with a barrow” from Poems Before & After.  Reprinted with the permission of Bloodaxe Books Ltd.,

Source: Poems Before and After (Bloodaxe Books, 2006)

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Poet Miroslav Holub 1923–1998

POET’S REGION Eastern Europe

Subjects Living, Growing Old, Activities, Gardening, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Arts & Sciences, Sciences

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Miroslav  Holub


Miroslav Holub is a scientist by vocation and considers his poetry a pastime. Holub told Stephen Stepanchev in a New Leader interview that the Czech Writers Union had offered him a stipend equivalent to his salary as a research scientist to enable him to devote two years to his poetry. "But I like science," he said. "Anyway, I'm afraid that, if I had all the time in the world to write my poems, I would write nothing at all."

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Growing Old, Activities, Gardening, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Arts & Sciences, Sciences

POET’S REGION Eastern Europe

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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