I watch them, with their upturned faces,
Excited for the swimming races,
Exuberance rises with their arms;
Oh, youth’s simplicity retains its charms.
Do I envy them their happy ploy?
Do I hanker for their simple joy?
I gurgle at their happy shrieking,
But I know this isn’t what I’m seeking.
Shallow, are they? Uncaring of later?—
Yet do I really think that I am greater?
Intoxicating is their elation,
But misleading can be the glad sensation,
For humanity’s children still suck limes;
They don’t see ahead to troubled times.
It is I, then, only—I the distressed—
Who can look down upon them with such unrest.
I see their innocent keen naivety
And frankly sigh for their coming longevity;
I turn away.
There comes a time in every guiltless youth
Where the heart distorts to shapes uncouth;
The mind grows into its sinner’s realisation
And ever-present is, then, temptation.
Easy friendships are thenceforth challenged,
Confusion warrants that old chums are estranged;
What thereafter ensues harms all concerned—
Irreversibly, I’ve sorely learned.
What wicked unease will exist between
Two trusting children, who’ve not yet seen
What age can do to happy minds:
How it burns and twists and binds.
Like a guilty couple who’ve passed a night
With pints of drink in bedimméd light,
These two children can’t lock eyes
Without remembering all those lies
By which they lived for many years—
Friendship, was it?—and nearly in tears,
They turn away.
Once they both had been so close;
Now their contact is merely morose.
Once their friendship had been so huge,
Before that monstrous corruption deluge—
Now it all has melted away.
They feel too errant to show dismay,
For there can be no evidence of weakness
In the sinners who have carved their own bleakness.
Only private grief for that failed alliance
Can abide, with a pinch of external defiance.
Unworthy of any lasting affection,
There remains just one ghoulish direction;
A haunting sequence of happy images
Never to be relived—mirages.
Youthful joy only signifies pain
And so from affiliations the despondent abstain.
Yes, they will recall those swimming races,
Where they cheered together with upturned faces.
They turned away.