He was born in Závažná Poruba in a bricklayer family, in the Žilina region. After graduation at grammar school in Liptovský Mikuláš in 1948 he went to the Faculty of Arts at Comenius University in Bratislava and studied Slovak language, literature, and history. From 1952 to 1989 he lectured at the university on the history of Slovak and Czech literature. From 1971 to 1972 he taught at a university in Naples. He retired in 1990 and lived with his family in Bratislava. At age 80 he died at University Hospital in that city.
Rúfus published his first poems in magazines Prameň (Stream), Nový rod (New lineage), Mladá tvorba (Production of young ones) and Borba in the 1940s and debuted with his first collection, Až dozrieme ("When We Grow Mature") in 1956. Až dozrieme was a huge progression in understanding of poetry in that period. His work was influenced by symbolism, while he has also a strong social feeling. His source of inspiration was Slovak folk art, work of various Slovak painters and also work of photographer Martin Martinček. Beside writing for adults he devote some time to children's literature. He introduced himself as poet with autonous view of moral and life values, of love, turth, beauty, suffering and tragedy of both man and world of second half of 20th century. He was searching for meaning and essence of life with great perception and sensibility. In his work, he submerged deep into prolematics of life's sorrows, uncertainties, delights happines and also resistance.
A children's book, Modlitbičky ("Little Prayers") has been called his most successful work. Toward the end of his life he also published Báseň a čas ("Poem and Time") and Vernosť ("Fidelity").
In a book of essays, Človek, čas a tvorba ("Human, Time and Creation"), he examined questions of poetry and its relation to truth, homeland and time.
Awards and recognition
Rúfus, whose works have been translated into more than 20 languages, was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature many times since 1991. He became the first winner of the international Crane Summit Award for poetry 2008. As part of the award, his poems have been translated into Chinese. and introduced in Bratislava on his birthday, 10 December 2008.
- "Poet Milan Rufus Dies in Bratislava", article, January 11, website of TASR (News Agency of the Slovak Republic), retrieved same day