Days of 1903
I never found them again—all lost so quickly…
the poetic eyes, the pale face…
in the darkening street…
I never found them again—mine entirely by chance,
and so easily given up,
then longed for so painfully.
The poetic eyes, the pale face,
those lips—I never found them again.
The Souls of Old Men
Inside their worn, tattered bodies
dwell the souls of old men.
How unhappy the poor things are
and how bored by the pathetic life they live.
How they tremble for fear of losing that life, and how much
they love it, those befuddled and contradictory souls,
sitting—half comic and half tragic—
inside their old, threadbare skins.
A Prince from Western Libya
Aristomenis, son of Menelaos,
the Prince from Western Libya,
was generally liked in Alexandria
during the ten days he spent there.
As his name, his dress, modest, was also Greek.
He received honors gladly,
but he did not solicit them; he was unassuming.
He bought Greek books,
especially history and philosophy.
Above all he was a man of few words.
It got around that he must be a profound thinker,
and men like that naturally don’t speak very much.
He was neither a profound thinker nor anything else—
just a piddling, laughable man.
He assumed a Greek name, dressed like the Greeks,
learned to behave more or less like a Greek;
and all the time he was terrified he would spoil
his reasonably good image
by coming out with barbaric howlers in Greek
and the Alexandrians, in their usual way,
would make fun of him, vile people that they are.
This was why he limited himself to a few words,
terribly careful of his syntax and pronunciation;
and he was driven almost out of his mind, having
so much talk bottled up inside him.
Vertaald door Edmund Keeley en Philip Sherrard
K. P. Kaváfis (29 april 1863 – 29 april 1923)
Portret door Yiannis Psychopedis, 2013