To Have Taken the Trouble The Canon
Im broke and practically homeless.
This fatal city, Antioch,
has devoured all my money:
this fatal city with its extravagant life.
But Im young and in excellent health.
Prodigious master of things Greek,
I know Aristotle and Plato through and through,
poets, orators, or anyone else you could mention.
I have some idea about military matters
and friends among the senior mercenaries.
I also have a foot in the administrative world;
I spent six months in Alexandria last year:
I know (and this is useful) something about what goes on there
the scheming of Kakergetis, his dirty deals, and the rest of it.
So I consider myself completely qualified
to serve this country,
my beloved fatherland, Syria.
Whatever job they give me,
Ill try to be useful to the country. Thats my intention.
But if they frustrate me with their maneuvers
we know them, those smart operators: no need to say more here
if they frustrate me, its not my fault.
Ill approach Zabinas first,
and if that idiot doesnt appreciate me,
Ill go to his rival, Grypos.
And if that imbecile doesnt take me on,
Ill go straight to Hyrkanos.
One of the three will want me anyway.
And my conscience is quiet
about my not caring which one I chose:
the three of them are equally bad for Syria.
But, a ruined man, its not my fault.
Im only trying, poor devil, to make ends meet.
The almighty gods ought to have taken the trouble
to create a fourth, an honest man.
I would gladly have gone along with him.

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)

- Original Greek Poem