[ 1884 July, 15 ]Letters
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Alexandria 15 July 1884

My dear Constantine,
     I write to you in the quiet and solitude of my room at an hour far advanced in the night. I have been reading hard at my favourite mathematics, but even these now have lost the charm they had for me once. I feel sad, very sad, and everything appears to me profitless and sorrowful. I feel sad, I say, and mostly so when I think of the future, not for me individually but for those that are dear to me ¯ Can it be possible that there is no joy, no ease in the world, or is it that we alone of all beings are debarred from a sense thereof? There is an evil influence in night, that somehow disappears with the rays of the sun, but tonight I feel more than ever dejected, tho’ the beautiful Egyptian skies above me sparkle with a thousand stars. Looking at them a short while ago, I could not help thinking how strange a mockery it seems, that the myriad spheres above us, seemingly so tranquil, should watch over a world so rent with care and internecine strife.
     And the worst evil meseems is the constant masque-wearing to which one is doomed. ¯ The necessity to present a subdued, if not a pleased, countenance, and restrain the feeling that would promptly give it the lie.
     These perhaps are not fit sentiments for a letter, that should try and cheer you in your pitiful circumstances ¯ But ’tis hard at times to be falsely cheerful and the stoutest heart must give in to constant disappointments and the pessimism thereby engendered.
     You can little imagine how it pains me to read our dear mother’s letters, and know there is no help for it, but to let things be, and wait, wait, and trust to Providence, (which I firmly hold not to be an empty word, but which is trying us sorely), and so the days, and the months and the years go by with little profit, if any; and the good ¯ when it does come ¯ will have much evil to expunge.
     Poor Alexander and Paul ¯ I feel for them keenly: tell them they have my sincere, brotherly sympathy: ’tis alas, all that I can give.
     Many many kisses to mother and believe me ever
          Your affectionate
               John.


From John C. Cavafy
To Constantine Cavafy

Transcribed and edited by Katerina Ghika