Tomas Venclova – Poetry Readings: ‘Hidalgo’ (81/88)


Fine, I now have a book in my hands
which is called ‘The Complete Poems’. In fact, all of my poems are collected here. Of which, as I’ve said, I haven’t written many
in my life, only about 200. Two hundred plus. Well, perhaps there’ll be some more before I die,
but there certainly won’t be many more. I’ve been writing for over 50 years.
I began writing in ’56. I said that I wrote then about the Hungarian Revolution
which I couldn’t, of course, get published. But people read those poems, sometimes they even
copied them out, in the samizdat of those days. Here’s the very first poem which I consider worthy of being published, about the Hungarian Revolution called ‘Hidalgo’. Hidalgo is Cervantes’s hero in ‘The Ingenious
Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha’, who here represents the rebellious spirit
of the revolutionaries and… The poem is short, youthful, I’d say, naive, but nevertheless I had it published and the book begins with it.

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