Of Cabbages and Kings

April 14, 2010

Cavafy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chinmayi @ 6:44 pm

You tell yourself: I’ll be gone
To some other land, some other sea,
to a city lovelier far than this
Could ever have been or hoped to be—
Where every step now tightens the noose:
A heart in a body buried and out of use;
How long, how long must I be here
Confined among these dreary purlieus
Of the common mind? Wherever now I look
Black ruins of my life rise into view.
So many years have I been here
Spending and squandering and nothing gained.

Aside from being shatteringly beautiful, this verse brought home to me exactly how much is lost in translation. Lawrence Durrell was responsible for this particular formulation. If you see the other versions here, they will make you want to weep for their frustrating inability to capture its elusive beauty.

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