Friday, October 18, 2019

In Praise of Prague

~ A Song of Prague ~

Hradczany Castle in Prague
by Bohumír Dvorský (1902 - 76)


from the novel The Valley Of Decision
by Marcia Davenport (1903 - 96)
fiance of Jan Masaryk (1886 - 1948)

Chapter 79 ~ 1936
Claire sniffed happily as the car rounded the turn of the hill and she could look down and see the sharp spires of Prague piercing the gray haze which seemed to always hang over the city. The air had the most pungent, unforgettable odor. And how different, Claire thought, from the smoky smell of Pittsburgh. She put the rabbity little car in second gear and steeed it noisily down the grade. It's a strange thing, she reflected, that I have this queer love for two of the smokiest, grayest cities in the world. . . .

She drove as slowly as she could because she wanted to fill her eyes with the ancient, beautiful vista -- the broad winding Vltava spanned by the lacy bridges and crowned by the jewel of the Karluv Most [Charles Bridge].

Beyond, the Hradcany brooded on its bluffs, the stern pile of centuries where the wise old coachman's son [Czech President Thomas Masaryk, son of Jozef Masárik, coachman and steward; Thomas's son was beloved Czechoslovakian Diplomat Jan Masaryk] had lived and guided the nation he had led to freedom. Claire . . . drove down the wide Vysehrad, crossed the Palacky Bridge and turned left on the Smichov Embankment. The river flowed along, steel - colored and heavy in the dank November air. Tugboats and steamers puffed about their business. Handsome buildings and monuments lined the banks, punctuated by the noble Gothic towers of the bridges. Claire looked back over her shoulder at the imposing pile of the Narodni Divadlo; the national opera house, the quintessence of nineteenth - century pomposity, and wondered for the thousandth time why European city - builders had the vision to line their rivers with architectural magnificence while in America -- she grimaced at the thought of Pittsburgh. All its riverbanks were a shambles of ugliness; stacks and sheds and chimneys and railroad tracks and mies of dingy warehouses to obliterate the beauty God had put there. Yet she loved it. She would feel this same inward happiness, this eagerness to throw her arms around a beloved friend, if she were reaching Mary in Pittsburgh instead of Julka in Prague.
(528 - 529)

View of Prague from the Castle District ~ 2019
See Gerry?!

Here I am, standing on the
(very crowded!) Charles Bridge

Previously, a few brief references to
The Valley of Decision
Kitti's List
Fortnightly KC
Quotidian K

See also Davenport's autobiography:
Too Strong for Fantasy

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