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This report is taken from PN Review 130, Volume 26 Number 2, November - December 1999.

Letter from Slovakia James Sutherland-Smith

Edward Thomas in Slovakia is possibly a contrived idea. But Thomas might have found the present landscape of Slovakia familiar. It is largely rural and perhaps in the last stages of being abandoned by what remains of the traditional village communities. Where I used to go in the summer to find complete rest was a village in the far north-east of Slovakia on the Polish border called Vysná Jablonka. Perhaps eighty people remain there still, mostly old people living beside empty houses going to rack and ruin, fields left fallow and orchards untended. There are no children to scrump apples. It would be ideal country for smugglers if there were fortunes to be made by trafficking over the borders of Slovakia and Poland. Now it is mushroom country given over to deer and foxes. In spring from one of the hill tops one can look across the valley where the village is to what looks like an immense waterfall in the forest down the valley side, actually a stand of wild cherry trees in blossom among the beeches.

Thomas might also have loved the place where I go to now, rather nearer to Presov where we have bought a 'chata', a cabin, in the woods. It is at a point where a stream rushes down from the top of the 'Black Hill' to join a larger stream. It is barely ten feet away from the side of the cabin and its violence can be terrifying during the ...


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