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Deutsch: Kavafis 1929 in seiner Wohnung in Ale...Poetry today.

You know those times, when you come across a piece of poetry that will make you shiver with the depth and beauty and unexpectedness it employs to express something that is achingly familiar…

Well, it happened with this poem of Constantine Cavafy (here in a translation by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard – that I found thanks to Ellen Kushner.

When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive—don’t mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.
Above all, don’t fool yourself, don’t say
it was a dream, your ears deceived you:
don’t degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
as is right for you who proved worthy of this kind of city,
go firmly to the window
and listen with deep emotion, but not
with the whining, the pleas of a coward;
listen—your final delectation—to the voices,
to the exquisite music of that strange procession,
and say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.

Acknowledging defeat – in the form of a metaphysical procession in the middle of the night… ah. Beautiful. Haunting. Shiver-provoking. Didn’t you shiver?

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