HYMN TO YOUTH 
 
Oh, not you again, youth (barefaced little charmer).
What brings you to the beach ?  We grown-ups were quite relaxed
and you come and glue open our eyes, stirring up
our imaginations to impossible dreams.
 
Risen from the waves, all splendour, and brilliant in pure sensation,
(you little beast) dripping to the shore with tiny rosebud breasts,
your delicious bum like twin smiles.

Oh, slim little goddess with rounded ankles, the suggestive push of your hips
giving birth to your delicate thighs.  Precise and indefinite beauty
- no one's tears have yet stained your fine white cheeks.
 
And we watch you rise, the incarnation of a mythical land, rise
with bulls, sea-shells and dolphins on the white sand between sea and sky,
still tremulous with water-drops, dazzling the sun and smiling -
smiling and singing far off at the water's edge.  But we hear only
the proclamation of the kingdom of youth; that intensely free and fabulous land
in which desire can swell, like the sea, without guilt.
 
(Oh, you little beast!)  Why did you choose  
this beach to display your intricate childish beauty  
- in which the frank face of the starlet
and the charming shyness of the prince are blended ?
 
But you suddenly frown, your fine brow tormented by a fleeting thought,
and turn your face back to the sea - beautiful indifferent girl
with salty-wet hair - and saunter along the beach
as if you didn't know that behind you follow
men and hounds and gods and angels and archangels
and thrones and an entire melancholy ocean.

                            ******
 
   Jaime Gil de Biedma  (Spain, 1929-1990.  Suppressed under Franco because
   of his activities in the anti-fascist resistance, but now being hailed  
   as a master by a new generation of Spanish poets, and widely published
   in popular editions)