Petřínské sady: Statue of Karel Hynek Mácha
This full-height bronze of the illustrious poet Karel Hynek Mácha was begun in 1910 (the centenary of his birth) and placed on Petřin Hill, not far from the writer’s birthplace on Újezd street, two years later.
In the fashion of the true romantic, Mácha had died young, the result of a fever contracted while helping to put out a barn fire during a visit to Litoměřice the day before his wedding in 1836. His remains were finally interred in Vyšehrad cemetery, the resting place of those artists, writers and musicians whose work contributed to the revival and survival of the Czech national spirit.
The work of the sculptor Josef Václav Myslbek, the statue represents the youthful Mácha penning his gothic fantasy ‘Máj’, a poem which perfectly captures the idea of doomed youth so favoured by the Romantics.
The narrative of Mácha’s poem takes place on the first of May, and each year on that date his statue on Petřin becomes a place of pilgrimage for lovers old and young.
Parts of this article first appeared in my ‘Vršovice Diary’ in November 2010, the poet’s bicentenary. The information is reproduced here to celebrate May Day 2014.