C. P. CavafyEdmund KeeleyPhilip Sherrard


Che Fece... Il Gran Refiuto

For some people the day comes
when they have to declare the great Yes
or the great No. It’ s clear at once who has the Yes
ready within him; and saying it,

he goes from honor to honor, strong in his conviction.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
he’ d still say no. Yet that no — the right no —
drags him down all his life.

In Sparta

He didn’ t know, King Kleomenis, he didn’ t dare —
he just didn’ t know how to tell his mother
a thing like that: Ptolemy’ s demand,
to guarantee their treaty, that she too go to Egypt
and be held there as a hostage —
a very humiliating, indecorous thing.
And he would be about to speak yet always hesitate,
would start to tell her yet always stop.

The Afternoon Sun

This room, how well I know it.
Now they’ re renting it, and the one next to it,
as offices. The whole house has become
an office building for agents, businessmen, companies.

This room, how familiar it is.

The couch was here, near the door,
a Turkish carpet in front of it.
Close by, the shelf with two yellow vases.
On the right — no, opposite — a wardrobe with a mirror.
In the middle the table where he wrote,
and the three big wicker chairs.
Beside the window the bed
where we made love so many times.

The City

You said: “I’ ll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart lies buried like something dead.
How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I’ ve spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally.”