A lad changed to a shrub in spring,
the shrub into a shepherd boy,
A fine hair to a lyre string,
snow into snow on hair piled high.
And words turn into question signs,
wisdom and fame to old-age lines,
and strings revert to finest hair,
the boy's transformed into a poet
the poet is transformed once more,
becomes the shrub my which he slept
when he loved beauty till he wept.
Whoever falls in love with beauty
will love it to his dying day,
stagger toward it aimlessly,
beauty has feet of charm and grace
in sandals delicate as lace.
And in this metamorphosis
a spell binds him to woman's love,
a single second is enough
like steam in a retort to hiss
obedient to the alchemist
and drops dead as a hunted dove.
Without a stick old age is lame,
the stick turns into anything
in this ceaseless, fantastic game,
perhaps into an angel's wings
now spreading wide for soaring flight
bodyless, painless, feather light
Excerpt from The Poetry of Jaroslav Seifert
The Excommunication of Elizabeth I
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