No desert plain seems to exist in central Europe, but the names of streets in Prague have changed many times. When the Nazis occupied the city in 1938, Hitler ordered that all the streets be changed to German. Then during the Prague Spring of 1968, the Soviets refered to street names in Russian. This was supposed to be a strategic maneuver that had a dual purpose; it would allow occupying forces to read the street signs, and it forced assimilation on the Czechs.
The tactics failed.
The twisting alleyways of cobblestone streets, lined with Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance architecture, make it nearly impossible to get your bearings, unless you stumble into a square (open area) or run into the river. This is part of the magic of the city, you can literally walk through history. Getting lost is an inspireing experience, every turn may bring you to a home of Kafka, or the site of a legendary haunt of the city. Changing the names of the streets didn't effect the Czechs, they knew how to weave through the labyrinth of streets. They also switched street signs to confuse the occupying armies.
Finding meaning in a song is subjective at least. Though I can find interesting similarities in the song and the city:
- I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside Being occupied and oppressed - run over by military forces can make a nation feel bound, stuck and withdrawn. Yearning for freedom beyond the walls. Specifically, the iron curtain.
- I want to reach out and touch the flame Charles University (Univerzita Karlovy) student Jan Palach set himself on fire in Wenceslas Square to protest the Prague Spring in 1968. Mourners lined up for kilometers three days later to pay respect to this young man and his message. A powerful message that grips life and shouts with pain of a soul, a nation.
- I want to seek shelter from the poison rain I'll just say that there are green glowing radioactive cows in Moravia.
- We're beaten and blown by the wind...Trampled in dust...see our love turn to rust Examining the overall destruction of war, of trying to destroy a culture, a nation, the "love" rusting, still there but a meager shell of its true self.
Praha, magical, loving, golden Prague, a thousand spires poking out of the fog and the rumble of chimes resonating through the beginning of each hour. No other city is more worthy of this title.
and when i go there, i go there with you