Friday, May 11, 2007

406. Reading Cavafy In Translation - Mairi Macinnes

He would never have liked me,
A woman who's ample and hopeful and hard-working,
Bothered by sentiment, neither stylish no austere.
Yet the loveless cadences of his translation
Warm me like an old friend from the capital
Met by chance in a provincial town.
His observations, not witty, are precise –
Like good stones in a jeweller's window
They give out fire.
They are the bounty of a fortunate life.
I understand too that the original contains
A familiar sadness about the civilization
Falling away behind us, and a dry contempt
For our inept love of the present,
That flares sometimes, like beacons before Armada.
A clever friend, he'd be amused to see me mourn
About the clouding over and loss of heaven to come.

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