'Freedom makes the moth tremble'

miroslav holub.jpg
The moth
by Miroslav Holub

The moth

The moth, 
having left its pupa 
in the galaxy 
of flower grains 
and pots of rancid dripping,

the moth 
discovers in this 
topical darkness 
that it’s a kind of butterfly 
it can’t believe it,
it can’t believe it,

it can’t believe 
that it’s a tiny, 
flying, relatively 
free moth

and it wants to go back,
but there’s no way.

Freedom makes 
the moth tremble 
for ever. That is,
Twenty-two hours.

by Miroslav Holub

Miroslav Holub, Poems Before & After: Collected English Translations. Trans. Dana Hasova and David Young (Bloodaxe Books, 2006)



(from The Poetry Exchange conversation with Claudia Orduz about the poem that has been a friend to her; The Moth by Miroslav Holub.)

Czechoslovakia 1976

A man is shuttered away in a laboratory
he stares down the lens of a microscope
into the peppercorn eyes of a moth.
At night words fall through him like particles that cluster and mutate in spiralling patterns

Nemuze uverit, nemuze uverit, nemuze uverit.

Every twenty-two hours
the moth hangs in its pupa waiting for the blood to fall
and for the wind and the currents.

Columbia 2011

A woman is kept in a jar, the jar
is kept in darkness, the darkness
is blacker than her eyes. Inside herself she dreams she is a girl running barefoot with a net in the garden.
creelo, creelo, creelo

between thought and dream, between decades and hemispheres and species the edge of belief begins
like a wing that trembles
and then lifts.

by Fiona Lesley Bennett.


Poem as Friend to Claudia

The moth.jpg
The mothby Miroslav Holub

In this episode of our podcast, you will hear Claudia talking about the poem that has been a friend to her: ’The moth' by Miroslav Holub.

We are delighted to feature 'The moth' in this episode and would like to thank Bloodaxe Books for granting us permission to use the poem in this way. Do visit them for further inspiration:


Claudia visited The Poetry Exchange at Greyfriars Chapel in Canterbury, as part of Wise Words Festival in September 2014. We’re very grateful to Wise Words for hosting The Poetry Exchange. Thanks also to Spread The Word for their continued support of the project.


Claudia is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Fiona Lesley Bennett and Michael Shaeffer.

'The moth' is read by Michael Shaeffer.


We talk to people about the poem that has been a friend to them.

In exchange we create a gift for them, a bespoke reading of their chosen poem inspired by the conversation. Our award-winning podcast shares these unique and powerful stories of connection with people across the world. 


We set up an intimate environment for these conversations at festivals, in arts, cultural and public spaces across the country. We also hold exchanges ‘long distance’. Our visitors come from all walks of life and we also feature well-known personalities such as Andrew Scott, Maxine Peake, Roy McFarlane and Paterson Joseph.