Milan Rufus, Outstanding Slovak Poet, Dies At 80

January 18, 2009 Updated: January 19, 2009

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia—A last farewell to famous Slovak poet Milan Rufus was held on  Jan. 17 in the capital of Slovakia. Among attendees at the funeral were Slovak president Milan Gasparovic, and Minister of Culture Marek Madaric. The “Honest Word Bricklayer,” as he was named by his publisher, died on Jan. 11 at the age of eighty.

Milan Rufus was one of the most distinguished personalities of Slovak poetry, with his works  translated into 15 languages. Last year he became a laureate of the International Crane Summit Award for Poetry 2008. As a consequence, his poems will now be translated into Chinese.

His poetry, especially the highly successful children’s work “Modlitbicky” (Little Prayers) was inspired by his handicapped daughter Zuzanka, who he lived with throughout his life. He is also the author of more than 30 books, where he speaks highly of traditional human virtues and the hard life of Slovak ancestors of the past.

Something clear on the table, like bread
or water, or
salt between the fingers. That is a poem.

–Milan Rufus, from “What is a poem?”