rae dalven

Every effort of mine is a condemnation of fate;
and my heart is-like a corpse-buried.
How long will my mind remain in this wasteland.
Wherever I tum my eyes, wherever I may look
I see black ruins of my life here,
where I spent so many years destroying and wasting.
—  C.P. Cavafy, from “The City,” The Complete Poems, transl. by   Rae Dalven (Mariner Books, 1976)
The City

You said, “I will go to another land, I will go to another sea.
Another city will be found, a better one than this.
Every effort of mine is a condemnation of fate;
and my heart is–like a corpse–buried.
How long will my mind remain in this wasteland.
Wherever I turn my eyes, wherever I may look
I see black ruins of my life here,
where I spent so many years destroying and wasting.”

You will find no new lands, you will find no other seas.
The city will follow you. You will roam the same
streets. And you will age in the same neighborhoods;
and you will grow gray in these same houses.
Always you will arrive in this city. Do not hope for any other–
There is no ship for you, there is no road.
As you have destroyed your life here
in this little corner, you have ruined it in the entire world.
—  Cavafy, translated by Rae Dalven, “The City”
Ideal and dearly beloved voices
of those who are dead, or of those
who are lost to us like the dead.

Sometimes they speak to us in our dreams;
sometimes in thought the mind hears them.

And for a moment with their echo other echoes
return from the first poetry of our lives —
like music that extinguishes the far-off night.
—  C.P. Cavafy, “Voices,” The Complete Poems, transl. by   Rae Dalven (Mariner Books, 1976)    
Like beautiful bodies of the dead who had not grown old
and they shut them, with tears, in a magnificent mausoleum,
with roses at the head and jasmine at the feet —
that is how desires look that have passed
without fulfillment; without one of them having achieved
a night of sensual delight, or a moonlit morn.
—  C.P. Cavafy, “Desires,” The Complete Poems, transl. by  Rae Dalven (Mariner Books, 1976)    
an echo of the days drew near me,
a little of the fire of the youth of both of us;
again I took in my hands a letter,
and I read and reread till the light was gone.

And melancholy, I came out on the balcony—
came out to change my thoughts at least by looking at
a little of the city that I loved,
—  C.P. Cavafy, from “In the Evening,” The Complete Poems, transl. by Rae Dalven (Mariner Books, 1976)