|Days of 1909, ’10, and ’11 ||The Canon
|He was the son of a harassed, poverty-stricken sailor
(from an island in the Aegean Sea).
He worked for a blacksmith: his clothes shabby,
his workshoes miserably torn,
his hands filthy with rust and oil.
In the evenings, after the shop closed,
if there was something he longed for especially,
a fairly expensive tie,
a tie for Sunday,
or if he saw and coveted
a beautiful blue shirt in some store window,
he’d sell his body for a dollar or two.
I ask myself if the glorious Alexandria
of ancient times could boast of a boy
more exquisite, more perfect—lost though he was:
that is, we don’t have a statue or painting of him;
thrust into that awful blacksmith’s shop,
overworked, tormented, given to cheap debauchery,
he was soon used up.
|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