The Year 1934

Jaroslav Seifert

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The happiness of youth
is pleasant to remember.
Only the river doesn’t age.
The windmill has collapsed,
capricious winds
are whistling, unconcerned.

A touching wayside cross remains.
A cornflower wreath like a nest without birds
upon Christ’s shoulder,
and a frog blaspheming in the sedge.

Have mercy upon us!
A bitter time has come
to the banks of sweet rivers,
two years the factories have stood empty
and children learn the language of hunger
at their mothers’ knees.

And still their laughter rings
under the willow sadly silent
in its silver.

May they give us a happier old age
than the childhood we’re giving them!

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