Wednesday 15 May 2013

'our efforts are the efforts of the Trojans'


Our efforts are the efforts of the Trojans.
We prosper in some measure; we believe
in our own power a little; and we begin
to move intrepidly and with fair hopes.

But always something rises and repels us.
Achilles at the trench in front of us
rises, and with far-sounding cry dismays us.

Our efforts are the efforts of the Trojans.
We think that with decision and with boldness
we may repress the enmity of fortune,
and we abide the conflict in the open.

But when the crisis exigent is come,
our boldness and decision fall away;
the soul is disconcerted, paralysed;
and round about the walls we run apace,
endeavouring in flight to find escape.

And our defeat is certain. Even now,
above us, on the walls, the wail begins.
Memories wail, and affections of our day.
Grievously Priam and Hecuba bewail us. 

C.P. Cavafy

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