Jaroslav Seifert

Dance of Girls' Chemesis

A dozen girls’ chemises
drying on a line,
floral lace at the breast
like rose windows in a Gothic cathedral.

shield Thou me from all evil.

A dozen girls’ chemises,
that’s love,
innocent girls’ games on a sunlit lawn,
the thirteenth, a man’s shirt,
that’s marriage,
ending in adultery and a pistol shot.

The wind that’s streaming through the chemises,
that’s love,
our earth embraced by its sweet breezes:
a dozen airy bodies.

Those dozen girls made of light air
are dancing on the green lawn,
gently the wind is modelling their bodies,
breasts, hips, a dimple on the belly there --
open fast, oh my eyes.

Not wishing to disturb their dance
I softly slipped under the chemises’ knees,
and when any of them fell
I greedily inhaled it through my teeth
and bit its breast.

which we inhale and feed on,
love that our dreams are keyed on,
that dogs our rise and fall:
yet the sum of all.

In our all-electric age
nightclubs not christenings are the rage
and love is pumped into our tyres.
My sinful Magdalen, don’t cry:
Romantic love has spent its fires.
Faith, motorbikes, and hope.

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Jaroslav Seifert