Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Often for sport the crewmen will ensnare
Some albatrosses: vast seabirds that sweep
In lax accompaniment through the air
Behind the ship that skims the bitter deep.
No sooner than they dump them on the floors
These skyborn kings, graceless and mortified,
Feel great white wings go down like useless oars
And drag pathetically at either side.
That sky-rider: how gawky now, how meek!
How droll and ugly he that shone on high!
The sailors poke a pipestem in his beak,
Then limp to mock this cripple born to fly.
The poet is so like this prince of clouds
Who haunted storms and sneered at earthly slings;
Now, banished to the ground, to cackling crowds,
He cannot walk beneath the weight of wings.