Milan Rúfus

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Milan Rúfus
Born (1928-12-10)December 10, 1928
Závažná Poruba, Czechoslovakia (now part of Slovakia)
Died January 11, 2009(2009-01-11) (aged 80)
Bratislava, Slovakia
Occupation poet, translator
Language Slovak
Alma mater Comenius University in Bratislava

Milan Rúfus (December 10, 1928 – January 11, 2009) was a Slovak poet, essayist, translator, children's writer and academic.[1]


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.[1]


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 a poet with an autonous view of moral and life values, of love, truth, beauty, suffering and the tragedy of both man and the world of the second half of the 20th century. He was searching for the meaning and essence of life with great perception and sensibility. In his work, he submerged deep into the problematics 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").[1]

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.[1]

As a translator he produced a Slovak version of Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt.

Awards and recognition[edit]

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.[1] and introduced in Bratislava on his birthday, 10 December 2008.

In 1998, a minor planet 33158 Rúfus was named after him.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Poet Milan Rufus Dies in Bratislava", article, January 11, website of TASR (News Agency of the Slovak Republic), retrieved same day

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