Tuesday, July 31, 2007

467. The Horses Of Achilles - C. P. Cavafy

Translated from the Greek by Rae Dalven

When they saw that Patroclus was slain,
who had been so stalwart, and strong, and young,
the horses of Achilles started to weep;
their immortal nature was indignant
at the sight of this work of death.
They would shake their heads and toss their manes,
stamp the ground with their feet, and mourn
Patroclus who they realized was lifeless–– undone––
worthless flesh now––his spirit lost––
defenseless––without breath––
returned from life to the the great Nothing.

Zeus saw the tears of the immortal horses
and grew sad. "At the wedding of Peleus,"
he said, "I should not have acted so thoughtlessly;
it would have been better my hapless horses
if we had not given you! What are you doing down there,
among woebegone humanity, the plaything of fate?
You for whom neither death nor old age lie in wait,
you are harassed by transitory calamities.
Men have implicated you in their troubles."––Yet the two
noble animals went on shedding their tears
for the never-ending calamity of death.

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