by Karel Jaromír Erben

Translated by Susan Reynolds
Introduction by Susan Reynolds

Kytice was inspired by Erben’s love of Slavonic myth and the folklore surrounding such creatures as the Noonday Witch and the Water Goblin.

First published in 1853, these poems, along with Mácha’s Máj and Němcová’s Babička, are the best loved and most widely read 19th century Czech classics. Published here in the expanded 1861 version, the collection has moved generations of artists and composers, including Dvořák, Smetana and Janáček.

Translated and with an introduction by Susan Reynolds, Curator of the Czech, Slovak and Lusatian Collections at the British Library. The book is available in paperback and hardback.


… profoundly strange, with outcomes that you shrink from rather than anticipate, and so you simply pause from time to time to make peace with your goose bumps. The very particular rhythm of the verse contributes to its effect, which makes the translation all the more impressive.”

— Helen Oyeyemi, interviewed in The New York Times

[Kytice] remained little known in the English-speaking world until the current decade: it was considered almost impossible to translate. … [Erben’s] first concern in writing Kytice was the melody of the verses, which is integral to the work’s sinister atmosphere. Each of the thirteen poems has a different scheme of metre and rhyme, and puts onomatopoeia to good use. … Susan Reynolds … rises to all these challenges with admirable skill and precision.”

— Zuzana Slobodová, The Times Literary Supplement

A unique bilingual Czech-English edition of Erben’s Kytice – the author’s Czech original is accompanied by Susan Reynolds’ excellent English translations.”

— Jan Čulík, Britské listy

There is no such degree of precision, clarity and truth as is found in The Water-Goblin.”

— Leoš Janáček