Napoleon

By Miroslav Holub 1923–1998 Miroslav Holub
Children, when was
Napoleon Bonaparte born,
asks teacher.

A thousand years ago, the children say.
A hundred years ago, the children say.
Last year, the children say.
No one knows.

Children, what did
Napoleon Bonaparte do,
asks teacher.

Won a war, the children say.
Lost a war, the children say.
No one knows.

Our butcher had a dog
called Napoleon,
says Frantisek.
The butcher used to beat him and the dog died
of hunger
a year ago.

And all the children are now sorry
for Napoleon.

Miroslav Holub, “Napoleon” from Poems Before & After.  Reprinted with the permission of Bloodaxe Books Ltd., www.bloodaxebooks.com.

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

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Poet Miroslav Holub 1923–1998

POET’S REGION Eastern Europe

Subjects Living, Youth, Activities, School & Learning, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Miroslav  Holub

Biography

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, Youth, Activities, School & Learning, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION Eastern Europe

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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