Edison (poem)

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Edison is an epic poem by Czech poet Vítězslav Nezval.[1] It was written in 1927.[2] Later it was included in the poetic book Básně noci (Poems of the Night) which was published in 1930.[3] The main hero of the poem is American inventor Thomas Alva Edison, considered by the author to be a modern genius. Nezval's work is a praise of human activity, technology, and science, but also an expression of anxiety about civilisation.[4] Nezval compares the inventor's work to writing poetry.[5] He points out that every creative work demands much toil and courage.[6] After Edison's death in 1931 Nezval wrote Signál času (Signal of time) which is an elegy. Both poems are written in the same measure, trochaic hexameter. Nezval uses long enumerations,[7] building sophisticated poetical imagery.[8] Nezval's Edison was probably influenced by Guillaume Apollinaire's work, especially the poem Zone, which was translated into Czech by Karel Čapek.[9]


The poem was translated into English by Ewald Osers. François Kérel, helped by Nezval himself, translated the poem into French.[10] It was also twice translated into Polish, by Kazimierz Andrzej Jaworski and Józef Waczków.


  1. ^ "Slovník české literatury".
  2. ^ Milan Blahynka, Ediční poznámka, [in:] Vítězslav Nezval, Básně noci, Odeon, Praha 1966, p. 160. (in Czech)
  3. ^ Alfred Thomas, The Bohemian Body: Gender and Sexuality in Modern Czech Culture, The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison 2007, p. 126.
  4. ^ Patočka, Miroslav. "Biskoupky.cz: oficiální informační portál obce Biskoupky".
  5. ^ "Vítézslav Nezval".
  6. ^ "Thomas Edison and Pop Culture". 21 February 2012.
  7. ^ "Enumeratio(n) in Rhetoric: Point by Point by Point".
  8. ^ Barbara Mytko, Apollinaire i czeska awangarda poetycka, Studia Rossica Posnaniensia 17, 1982/1983, pp. 67-75 (in Polish).
  9. ^ Deborah Garfinkle, Karel Čapek's Pásmo and the construction of literary modernity through the art of translation, The Slavic and east European Journal, Vol. 47, No. 3 (Autumn 2003), pp. 345-366.
  10. ^ "V. Nezval: Edison".


  • Vítězslav Nezval, Edison. Báseň o pěti zpěvech. Translated from the Czech by Ewald Osers (parallel Czech and English texts), Dvořák, Pelhřimov 2003.
  • Vítězslav Nezval, Cudowny czarodziej. Wybór i wstęp Jacek Baluch, redakcja Andrzej Piotrowski, Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, Warszawa 1969 (in Polish).