Alexandria III

The God Abandons Antony

by C.P. Cafavy

When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive—don’t mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.
Above all, don’t fool yourself, don’t say
it was a dream, your ears deceived you:
don’t degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
as is right for you who proved worthy of this kind of city,
go firmly to the window
and listen with deep emotion, but not
with the whining, the pleas of a coward;
listen—your final delectation—to the voices,
to the exquisite music of that strange procession,
and say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.

Reprinted from C. P. CAVAFY: Collected Poems Revised Edition, translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard, edited by George Savvidis. Translation copyright © 1975, 1992 by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Princeton University Press. For reuse of these translations, please contact Princeton University Press.


This famous poem is by the poet Constantinos Petrou Cafavy who was born and died in the ancient port city Alexandria. He lived from 1863 to 1933 and was a member of the large Greek community in Alexandria. His poems were also written in Greek.

The City

You said: “I’ll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart lies buried like something dead.
How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I’ve spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally.”

You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
This city will always pursue you.
You’ll walk the same streets, grow old
in the same neighborhoods, turn gray in these same houses.
You’ll always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:
there’s no ship for you, there’s no road.
Now that you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you’ve destroyed it everywhere in the world.

from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Translation Copyright © 1975, 1992 by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Reproduced with permission of Princeton University Press

Praise Song for Oceania

This is a beautiful poem by CRAIG SANTOS PEREZ, a coentemporary writer from the Pacific island of Guam. The typeset is quite impressive and transforms the words into a visual art piece as well as a poem. I won’t be able to reproduce it here, so I’ll just quote one stanza and encourage you to check it out in full beauty on this website.

praise your capacity to remember

                         your library of drowned stories

                                                 museum of lost treasures

                                                              your vast archive of desire

Thanks to Hilke Berger for the lead!

Detlev von Liliencron (1844-1909): Trutz Blanke Hans

Ein einziger Schrei – die Stadt ist versunken,
Und Hunderttausende sind ertrunken.
Wo gestern noch Lärm und lustiger Tisch,
Schwamm andern Tags der stumme Fisch.
Heut bin ich über Rungholt gefahren,
Die Stadt ging unter vor sechshundert Jahren.
Trutz, Blanke Hans?


full text and info:

Germany; 19. Century; Christian; Poetry; City: Rungholt