November 08, 2008
My Oldest Book.
During my childhood summers, I spend several weeks with my grandparents in Prague. Those were the times in which I grew to love that city and that love has remained with me till this day. The particular atmosphere I remember is by long gone, but inside my heart and my mind, I carry all the precious memories that connect me to a specific time and place, that I will always cherish.
While staying in the old apartment with my grandparents, I was allowed to read a very special book. It was very unique to me, as it was a book with the tales of Prague, the city. I loved that book and perceived it to be very significant, as it was so heavy and large in my small hands. The cover captivated me; it depicts a man astride on a white horse, jumping of a cliff. One can sense clearly the feeling of resolution and determination not just in the posture of this man, but also in his face.
The man is called Horymir and he is riding his bellowed horse Semik (I often wondered whether Tolkien was inspired by some of the Slavic legends and used similar names for his heroes). This picture, painted by a famous Czech artist Mikolas Ales, is inspired by a legend, where Horymir, imprisoned in the Vysehrad castle asks for one last wish before his execution. He requests to be permitted a final ride on his horse around the castle yard. His wish is granted and after circling the yard a few times, the loyal horse obeys his master’s order and jumps over the castle wall and into the Vltava (Moldau) river below, bringing his master into safety. The king is so impressed by this courage, he grants Horymir his freedom.
It was one of my favorite stories of all.
After my grandparents passed away, this book was given to my parents, who later gave to me, knowing how much I loved reading it as a child. Today is not just the most treasured book I own, but being printed in 1937, also the oldest one.