One reason I like the amusing and well-written blog called Poemas del río Wang, by the Hungarian publisher Tamás Sajó, is its photographs and illustrations, including the one shown above.  Another reason is that it makes me glad to be alive in 2010-ish.  If that sounds like auxesis, I should add that before 1990 the cultures of eastern Europe were much more difficult for an Englishman like me to negotiate.  Back then, it was hard to see what was historically significant or culturally distinctive.  That there were many connections to more distant cultures further east and south (as well as to my own) wasn’t obvious, either.  During the post-war communist years, everything that was cultually interesting about the Eastern “Bloc” countries was obscured; we saw an eastern Europe composed of nearly identical states.  Nowadays we know more.  From the author’s home, near Budapest, he steers his way through many cultures: Armenian, Venice, Russia, different parts of the Ottoman Empire, Egypt.  There are fields full of Persian lilies; melodies that have been played all around Europe in different languages (there are lots of videos of music and translations of song lyrics).  Scrolling down the long page you will pass extraordinary photos of Russian and German soldiers enjoying each other’s company in Poland in 1939, just before the war, and pictures from a book of the architecture of pre-war Bucharest.  There are also some lovely articles at río Wang showing pictures of Argentina: from giant cactuses to life in Buenos Aires, they are written by Julia, who sometimes comments on this blog.

Tomás is among other things an art historian and a Catholic.  Once you have got to Poemas del río Wang, you can find Tomás’s publishing house, Studiolum, where he has early editions of renaissance and baroque literature for sale in cd-form (a brilliant idea, I thought).  There is one of Erasmus, which includes what Tomás says is a self-portrait, drawn in the margin of his commentaries to St. Jerome:

Also next door is A Garden Diary,  the story of their amazing garden outside Budapest, written by Tomás’s wife, Kata, a psychologist, who created it.  One day I’ll write about that blog.

Tamás’s latest post has marvelous pictures of  brněnský drak — the dragon of Brno, in Bohemia — who started life as a crocodile, in the early fifteen hundreds.  The article links to dragons, to Spain and Majorca, to the medieval import of exotic animals to Europe and best of all to the 700 year-old European tradition of hanging crocodiles from the ceiling.  Previously all I knew about Brno was that it was the location of Mies’s Tugendhat House.  Thanks to Tamás’s scholarship, his love of travel and his fluency in so many languages we all have an opportunity to find out so much more.  It’s not just information, though.  Whenever I read something at Poemas del río Wang I dream about it for days afterward.

Update:  If you’re wondering what crocodiles and Majorca have to do with goats, dearieme has supplied the answer here.

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