Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Honor to those who in the life they lead
keep and guard their own Thermopylae.
Never betraying what is right,
consistent and just in all they do
but showing pity also, and compassion;
generous when they're rich, and when they're poor,
still generous in small ways,
still helping as much as they can;
always speaking the truth,
yet without hating those who lie.

And even more honor is due to them
when they foresee (as many do foresee)
that Ephialtis will turn up in the end,
that the Medes will break through after all.

--Constantine P. Cavafy

Translated by
Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherrard


Angelina said...

That pretty much sums up what I aspire to live up to.

It's actually quite a poignant little poem for me at this moment.

I think you are reading more intelligent fare than I am. Though that wouldn't be difficult since I'm not reading anything right now. I plan to remedy that soon. I used to read a couple of books a week but then I quit smoking and it was difficult for me to sit and read and drink in the evening without smoking. Isn't that totally lame? It's been a few years and I still haven't gotten back in the habit of inhaling books.

Now I watch endless reruns of Frasier and Friends just like a proper crazy person. (It drives my mom up the wall that I can watch the same things hundreds of times and not be bored. I try to explain that it's a question of comfort found in ritual and the known quantity.)

Angelina said...

P.S. It doesn't matter what I am or am not reading, what you're reading is intelligent. Sometimes I say things and then realize I twisted it up all wrong.

Blaize said...

I don't generally read very "intelligent" fare nowadays, though I have read more than my share of hi-falutin' stuff as a graduate student in English literature. I don't watch reruns of shows, but I do have a whole bunch of books I call "place-holder books," which I reread when I cannot bear to read anything new. I mostly read place-holder books in September. The comfort found in ritual and the known quantity. Exactly.

The Cafavy poem is important to me because a friend of mine who DOES read intelligent fare (in--get this--something like 15 different languages including the 5 forms of hieroglyphics and the ancient form of the Greek of this poem) told me that the poem reminded him of how I live my life, trying hard even though I know I will be betrayed to the enemy by something within my own ranks. I cried when he read the poem to me.