Satrapy The Canon
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What a calamity that you who are made
for beautiful achievements and renowed,
should always be, through your hard fate, denied
occasion and success; that you should always
be hindered by the mean observances,
the littlenesses, and indifferences.
And how unblest the day when you give in
(when you have lost yourself, and you give in),
and you depart, a wayfarer for Susa,
and come before the monarch Artaxerxes
who welcomes you with favour at his Court,
offering you satrapies and things akin.
And you, despairing, you accept those honours,
those that are not the honours you desire.
Your soul is hungering for other things:
the praises of the Demos and the Sophists, —
the difficult, invaluable “Well done”;
the Agora, the Theatre, the bays.
These — how should Artaxerxes ever give,
how should you ever find in satrapies;
and what a life will yours be now, without them.

Translated by John Cavafy

(Poems by C. P. Cavafy. Translated, from the Greek, by J. C. Cavafy. Ikaros, 2003)

- Original Greek Poem

- Translation by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard