What language are the words "Kral Majales" in and what does it mean?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Czechoslvakian words mean "King of May."  The poet Alan Ginsberg was chosen King of May in a traditional ceremony in Czechoslvakia when he was living there having been "sent from Havana" after his hosts learned that he was not sympathetic to their suppression of unconventional behavior.  Then, after the communist authorities learned that Ginsberg advocated action against the political status quo, the poet was this time "sent from" Prague.

Ginsberg's poem rails against the foolishness of American capitalism and the oppression of Communism, a government which boasted of heavy industry, but, Ginsberg says, is only one that makes the "heart heavy."   Continuing the comic rant, Ginsberg repeats the phrase "I am the King of May" even parodying the time-honored tradition of the Czechs.  Continuing the parody motif, he goes on to describe himself as meaningless by attributing contradictory and religious affiliations which he has invented:

I am the King of May, naturally for I am of Slavic parentage and a Buddist Jew/ who worships the Sacred heart of Christ the blue body of Krishna the back of ram/ the beads of Chango the Nigerian Shiva Shiva in a manner which I have invented.

(If you visit the sniffylinings site, you can listen to Ginsberg reciting it.)

charles-wiener's profile pic

charles-wiener | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

What a nonsense mwestwood wrote : language is Czech or Slovak, in this case it's Czech. Correctly "Kral  majalesu", "The King of the rag day". As this mainly student celebration used to be organized in May, in Slavic languages Maj, the event derives its name from this period of the year.

It's true that the Communist authorities were more than annoyed by the fact that Ginsberg was chosen by the students to be the King of their event. His anticapitalist and antiwar opinions were welcome to the Communists, but Ginsberg critisized their system, too. The last drop that caused his expulsion was, as far as I recall, advocacy of his sexual preferences - homo and bi. The Communist moral was in this respect very outmoded. In some respects not far from that of the Holy Church.

Ginsberg visited in Prague the poetic wine tavern where Jirka (George) Ostermann used to organize readings of poetry. Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Yevtushenko, .... I met Ginsberg there and served him a guide visiting Old Prague and especially the Jewish Quarter 44 years ago .....

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