How many times has a verse come to my mind
even at a crossroads
while the lights were at red!
You can even fall in love
in that short a time.
But before I'd walked across
to the far side
I'd forgotten the verses.
I was still able
to jot them down off-hand.
But the smile
of the girl who crossed over in front of me
I remember to this day.
Under the railway bridge at Kralupy
I often as a boy would climb
into the branches of a hollow willow
and among the twigs above the river
think and dream of my first verses.
But, to be honest, I also
would think and dream
of lovemaking and women
and watch the torn-off reeds
float on the water.
Easter was around the corner,
the air was full of vernal magic.
I even saw a kingfisher once
on a whipping twig.
In all my life
I never saw another
and yet my eyes have often longed
for a closer view of that delicate beauty.
Even the river had a pungent fragrance then,
that bittersweet fragrance,
the fragrance of women's loosened hair
when from their shoulders it overflows
their naked bodies.
And when, years later, I immersed
my face into that hair
and opened my eyes,
I gazed through those sunlit depths
to the roots of love.
There are rare moments in my life
when I find myself once more
under the railway bridge at Kralupy.
Everything there is as it used to be,
even that willow —
but I am just imagining it all.
Easter is once more round the corner,
the air is full of vernal magic
and the river is fragrant.
For every day under my window
the birds go mad quite early in the morning
and, singing as if their lives depended on it,
they drown each other's voices,
and those sweet dreams
which usually come at dawn
But that's the only thing
I can hold against the spring.
(The poetry of Jaroslav Seifert, Catbird Press,
«a garrigue book», translated from the Czech
by Ewald Osers, p. 208)