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Since Nine O’Clock

by Constantine Cavafy

translated from the Greek by Theoharis C. Theoharis


Half past twelve. The time has passed quickly
since nine when I lit the lamp,
and sat down here. I've sat without reading
and without speaking. With whom could I speak,
all alone in this house?

The specter of my young body,
from when I lit the lamp at nine,
has come and found me and reminded me
of closed-up, aromatic chambers,
and past sensual delight—what brazen pleasure!
And it has also placed directly in my sight
streets which have now become unrecognizable,
lovely, crowded nightclubs which have closed,
and theaters and cafes that existed, once.

The specter of my young body
came and also brought to me the source of sorrows:
the grief of familial life, separations,
feelings for those I came from and belong to,
feelings for the dead esteemed so slightly.

Half past twelve. How the time has passed.
Half past twelve. How the years have passed.

 

Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933) is considered by many to have been the premier Modern Greek poet. (1998)

Theoharis C. Theoharis teaches at Harvard and is the editor of the Boston Book Review. He is the author of Joyce’s Ulysses: An Analysis of the Soul and Ibsen's Drama: Right Action and Tragic Joy. He is finishing a new translation of all Cavafy's poems. (1998)


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