The Footfalls The Canon
Lying in a bedstead made of ebony,
with coral eagles blazoning the wood,
sleeps Nero, — unconscientious, calm, content;
exalted by the virtue of the flesh,
by the vigour of the sap in youthful veins.
But in the alabaster chamber where
the Ahenobarbi shelter their time-worn
lararium, how diffident his Lares!
The puny household gods, quivering with fear,
try to conceal their unimpressive frames:
for they have heard a sound foreboding doom,
a deadly sound ascending the high stair —
footfalls of iron hammering the steps.
And terror-stricken now the wretched Lares
huddle in the depths of the lararium;
they stumble, and they tumble one another, —
one puny god upon another falls:
for they perceive the manner of the sound,
they know the footfalls of the Erinnyes.

Translated by John Cavafy

(Poems by C. P. Cavafy. Translated, from the Greek, by J. C. Cavafy. Ikaros, 2003)

- Original Greek Poem

- Translation by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard