THE ANCHOR to the end with still the most beautiful hope
the dead oyster rises up to the boat

THE HELMSMAN to amble through Marseille in the evening
on his boots still the mud of Singapore

THE SHIP on the riggings of the mast between the lanterns
a parrot and a monkey thought they were at home

NIGHT a soldier and girl remained alone in a cafe
the bottle cast the shadow of the Emperor Napolean

THE PROPELLOR when everybody had left to dance
from the depths the water lillies set out to sea

CRANES and grotesque giraffes went in long lines to sleep
among the palms of an unknown land

Jaroslav Seifert

(a different translation of this poem, plus many others from Seifert's poetist period,
can be found in The early poetry of Jaroslav Seifert, Evanston, Ill., 1997, tr. Dana Loewy)

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translation copyright 1998 by Greg Evans