Konstantinos Kavafis

Τρώες (1905) – Κ. Π. Καβάφης – Trojans, Konstantinos Kavafis

Τρώες

Είν’ η προσπάθειές μας, των συφοριασμένων·
είν’ η προσπάθειές μας σαν των Τρώων.
Κομμάτι κατορθώνουμε· κομμάτι
παίρνουμ’ επάνω μας· κι αρχίζουμε
νάχουμε θάρρος και καλές ελπίδες.

Μα πάντα κάτι βγαίνει και μας σταματά.
Ο Aχιλλεύς στην τάφρον εμπροστά μας
βγαίνει και με φωνές μεγάλες μάς τρομάζει.—

Είν’ η προσπάθειές μας σαν των Τρώων.
Θαρρούμε πως με απόφασι και τόλμη
θ’ αλλάξουμε της τύχης την καταφορά,
κ’ έξω στεκόμεθα ν’ αγωνισθούμε.

Aλλ’ όταν η μεγάλη κρίσις έλθει,
η τόλμη κι η απόφασίς μας χάνονται·
ταράττεται η ψυχή μας, παραλύει·
κι ολόγυρα απ’ τα τείχη τρέχουμε
ζητώντας να γλυτώσουμε με την φυγή.

Όμως η πτώσις μας είναι βεβαία. Επάνω,
στα τείχη, άρχισεν ήδη ο θρήνος.
Των ημερών μας αναμνήσεις κλαιν κ’ αισθήματα.
Πικρά για μας ο Πρίαμος κ’ η Εκάβη κλαίνε.

(Από τα Ποιήματα 1897-1933, Ίκαρος 1984)

Trojans

Our efforts are those of men prone to disaster;
our efforts are like those of the Trojans.
We just begin to get somewhere,
gain a little confidence,
grow almost bold and hopeful,

when something always comes up to stop us:
Achilles leaps out of the trench in front of us
and terrifies us with his violent shouting.

Our efforts are like those of the Trojans.
We think we’ll change our luck
by being resolute and daring,
so we move outside ready to fight.

But when the great crisis comes,
our boldness and resolution vanish;
our spirit falters, paralyzed,
and we scurry around the walls
trying to save ourselves by running away.

Yet we’re sure to fail. Up there,
high on the walls, the dirge has already begun.
They’re mourning the memory, the aura of our days.
Priam and Hecuba mourn for us bitterly.

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

image credit: http://pyramisnews.gr

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Alexandria Leaving

When I first listened to this song I thought to myself “hey wait a minute, that reminds me of something’So familiar and yet, so confusing. It’s a song inspired by K. Kavafis’ “The god abandons Anthony” .

Same mood, same feeling of abandonment, same goodbyes..

Suddenly the night has grown colder.
The god of love preparing to depart.
Alexandra hoisted on his shoulder,
They slip between the sentries of the heart.
Upheld by the simplicities of pleasure,
They gain the light, they formlessly entwine;
And radiant beyond your widest measure
They fall among the voices and the wine.
It’s not a trick, your senses all deceiving,
A fitful dream, the morning will exhaust
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.
Even though she sleeps upon your satin;
Even though she wakes you with a kiss.
Do not say the moment was imagined;
Do not stoop to strategies like this.
As someone long prepared for this to happen,
Go firmly to the window. Drink it in.
Exquisite music. Alexandra laughing.
Your firm commitments tangible again.
And you who had the honor of her evening,
And by the honor had your own restored
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving;
Alexandra leaving with her lord.
Even though she sleeps upon your satin;
Even though she wakes you with a kiss.
Do not say the moment was imagined;
Do not stoop to strategies like this.
As someone long prepared for the occasion;
In full command of every plan you wrecked
Do not choose a coward’s explanation
that hides behind the cause and the effect.
And you who were bewildered by a meaning;
Whose code was broken, crucifix uncrossed
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

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The god forsakes Antony -K. Kavafis

KAVAFISThe god forsakes Antony

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—dont 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 were given 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.

– Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)

WRITING_l

     Απολείπειν ο Θεός Αντώνιον 

❝Σάν ἔξαφνα, ὥρα μεσάνυχτ’, ἀκουσθεί
ἀόρατος θίασος νά περνᾶ
μέ μουσικές ἐξαίσιες, μέ φωνές —
τήν τύχη σου πού ἐνδίδει πιά, τά ἔργα σου
πού ἀπέτυχαν, τά σχέδια τῆς ζωῆς σου
πού βγῆκαν ὅλα πλάνες, μή ἀνωφέλετα θρηνήσεις.
Σάν ἕτοιμος ἀπό καιρό, σά θαρραλέος,
ἀποχαιρέτα την, τήν Ἀλεξάνδρεια πού φεύγει.
Προ πάντων νά μή γελασθεῖς, μήν πεῖς πως ἦταν
ἕνα ὄνειρο, πώς ἀπατήθηκεν ἡ ἀκοή σου∙
μάταιες ἐλπίδες τέτοιες μήν καταδεχθεῖς.
Σάν ἕτοιμος ἀπό καιρό, σά θαρραλέος,
σάν που ταιριάζει σε πού ἀξιώθηκες μιά τέτοια πόλι,
πλησίασε σταθερά πρός τό παράθυρο,
κι ἄκουσε μέ συγκίνησιν, ἀλλ’ ὄχι
με τῶν δειλῶν τά παρακάλια και παράπονα,
ὡς τελευταία ἀπόλαυσι τούς ἤχους,
τά ἐξαίσια ὄργανα τοῦ μυστικοῦ θιάσου,
κι ἀποχαιρέτα την, τήν Ἀλεξάνδρεια πού χάνεις.❞

Waiting for the Barbarians, K. Kavafis

Waiting for the Barbarians (Constantine Kavafis)

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum

The barbarians are due here today.

Why isn’t anything happening in the senate?

Why do the senators sit there without legislating?

Because the barbarians are coming today.

What laws can the senators make now?

Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating

Why did our emperor get up so early,

and why is he sitting at the city’s main gate

on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?

Because the barbarians are coming today

and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.

He has even prepared a scroll to give him,

replete with titles, with imposing names.

Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today

wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?

Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,

and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?

Why are they carrying elegant canes

beautifully worked in silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are coming today

and things like that dazzle the barbarians.

Why don’t our distinguished orators come forward as usual

to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

Because the barbarians are coming today

and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?

(How serious people’s faces have become.)

Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,

everyone going home so lost in thought?

Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.

And some who have just returned from the border say

there are no barbarians any longer.

And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?

They were, those people, a kind of solution.

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)

Η Πόλις, Κ. Καβάφης – The City , K. Kavafis

The City

You said: “I’ll go to another country, go to another shore,

find another city better than this one.

Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong

and my heart lies buried as though it were something dead.

How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?

Wherever I turn, wherever I happen to look,

I see the black ruins of my life, here,

where I’ve spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally.”

 

You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.

This city will always pursue you. You will walk

the same streets, grow old in the same neighborhoods,

will turn gray in these same houses.

You will always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:

there is no ship for you, there is no road.

As you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,

you’ve destroyed it everywhere else in the world.

 

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

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Η Πόλις

Είπες· «Θα πάγω σ’ άλλη γη, θα πάγω σ’ άλλη θάλασσα.

Μια πόλις άλλη θα βρεθεί καλλίτερη από αυτή.

Κάθε προσπάθεια μου μια καταδίκη είναι γραφτή·

κ’ είν’ η καρδιά μου — σαν νεκρός — θαμένη.

Ο νους μου ως πότε μες στον μαρασμόν αυτόν θα μένει.

Όπου το μάτι μου γυρίσω, όπου κι αν δω

ερείπια μαύρα της ζωής μου βλέπω εδώ,

που τόσα χρόνια πέρασα και ρήμαξα και χάλασα.»

 

Καινούριους τόπους δεν θα βρεις, δεν θάβρεις άλλες θάλασσες.

Η πόλις θα σε ακολουθεί. Στους δρόμους θα γυρνάς

τους ίδιους. Και στες γειτονιές τες ίδιες θα γερνάς·

και μες στα ίδια σπίτια αυτά θ’ ασπρίζεις.

Πάντα στην πόλι αυτή θα φθάνεις. Για τα αλλού — μη ελπίζεις—

δεν έχει πλοίο για σε, δεν έχει οδό.

Έτσι που τη ζωή σου ρήμαξες εδώ

στην κώχη τούτη την μικρή, σ’ όλην την γη την χάλασες.

 

(Από τα Ποιήματα 1897-1933, Ίκαρος 1984)

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Ithaca, by Konstantinos Kavafis

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Ithaca

As you set out for Ithaka

hope the voyage is a long one,

full of adventure, full of discovery.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,

angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:

you’ll never find things like that on your way

as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,

as long as a rare excitement

stirs your spirit and your body.

 

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,

wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them

unless you bring them along inside your soul,

unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

 

Hope the voyage is a long one.

May there be many a summer morning when,

with what pleasure, what joy,

you come into harbors seen for the first time;

may you stop at Phoenician trading stations

to buy fine things,

mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,

sensual perfume of every kind—

as many sensual perfumes as you can;

and may you visit many Egyptian cities

to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

 

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.

Arriving there is what you are destined for.

But do not hurry the journey at all.

Better if it lasts for years,

so you are old by the time you reach the island,

wealthy with all you have gained on the way,

not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

 

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.

Without her you would not have set out.

She has nothing left to give you now.

 

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.

Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,

you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

KAVAFIS

Ιθάκη

Σα βγεις στον πηγαιμό για την Ιθάκη,

να εύχεσαι νάναι μακρύς ο δρόμος,

γεμάτος περιπέτειες, γεμάτος γνώσεις.

Τους Λαιστρυγόνας και τους Κύκλωπας,

τον θυμωμένο Ποσειδώνα μη φοβάσαι,

τέτοια στον δρόμο σου ποτέ σου δεν θα βρεις,

αν μέν’ η σκέψις σου υψηλή, αν εκλεκτή

συγκίνησις το πνεύμα και το σώμα σου αγγίζει.

Τους Λαιστρυγόνας και τους Κύκλωπας,

τον άγριο Ποσειδώνα δεν θα συναντήσεις,

αν δεν τους κουβανείς μες στην ψυχή σου,

αν η ψυχή σου δεν τους στήνει εμπρός σου.

 

Να εύχεσαι νάναι μακρύς ο δρόμος.

Πολλά τα καλοκαιρινά πρωιά να είναι

που με τι ευχαρίστησι, με τι χαρά

θα μπαίνεις σε λιμένας πρωτοειδωμένους·

να σταματήσεις σ’ εμπορεία Φοινικικά,

και τες καλές πραγμάτειες ν’ αποκτήσεις,

σεντέφια και κοράλλια, κεχριμπάρια κ’ έβενους,

και ηδονικά μυρωδικά κάθε λογής,

όσο μπορείς πιο άφθονα ηδονικά μυρωδικά·

σε πόλεις Aιγυπτιακές πολλές να πας,

να μάθεις και να μάθεις απ’ τους σπουδασμένους.

 

Πάντα στον νου σου νάχεις την Ιθάκη.

Το φθάσιμον εκεί είν’ ο προορισμός σου.

Aλλά μη βιάζεις το ταξείδι διόλου.

Καλλίτερα χρόνια πολλά να διαρκέσει·

και γέρος πια ν’ αράξεις στο νησί,

πλούσιος με όσα κέρδισες στον δρόμο,

μη προσδοκώντας πλούτη να σε δώσει η Ιθάκη.

 

Η Ιθάκη σ’ έδωσε τ’ ωραίο ταξείδι.

Χωρίς αυτήν δεν θάβγαινες στον δρόμο.

Άλλα δεν έχει να σε δώσει πια.

 

Κι αν πτωχική την βρεις, η Ιθάκη δεν σε γέλασε.

Έτσι σοφός που έγινες, με τόση πείρα,

ήδη θα το κατάλαβες η Ιθάκες τι σημαίνουν.

 

(Από τα Ποιήματα 1897-1933, Ίκαρος 1984)