Youth, you say. What of it?
I could say I was as fair
and handsome as a hero.
But I was always plain. I hated
and loved much as a young man.
Once, I had a preference for women,
to hate and love them ceaselessly
rather than avoidable young men.
That came gradually with my riving.
But who’s to say the ungainly
pursuit of young ephebes
wasn’t as daft and ardent
as the chase after hetaerae.
Much time was wasted in the hunt,
much in bewailing its necessity,
the rest in eating, drinking and sleeping.
I never gave a hoot for what
they call the minds of either sex,
their messy cerebral selves
or mixed-up Chinese puzzles
of egregious emotions.
What else did I do to justify myself
and my existence to the neighbourhood?
(This was before I haunted the metropolis.)
I gathered their dung nightly and distributed it
over a field half as big as the town.
This made some of the more venturesome
girls and boys I fervently pursued
swear I stank constantly of merds.
The others tended to like my odour —
not I theirs, unfortunately.
Forever in nature one finds the clashing
of opposites. A truism throughout
the system; only Cathay had it
partly reconciled. India used it
as the basis of behaviour. But youth, youth,
I love its manifestations now in others
I must not touch. It refreshes me
As beef tea does an inutile vampire.
I come to terms with feeling
And play across a spectrum of
Responses in the ancient game of love.