An Old Man The Canon
Print
Here in the noisy café, in the inner part of its
unrest, an old man, bending over a table, sits,
with the day’s print before him, and companionless.
 
And in the misery of old age, — with its deep void
around him, he reflects how little he enjoyed
the years when he had strength, and speech, and comeliness.
 
He is aware of his great age: the days are gray
and cheerless. Still it seems as though it were yesterday
that he was young. So fast have gone the years, so fast.
 
And he considers how he used to be deceived
by Prudence: how, alack! she lied and he believed
her lie: “Tomorrow. Ample time ere time be past.”
 
He thinks of lusts curbed, and of joys that he denied
himself. All the lost opportunities now deride
his witless wisdom .... But the old man cannot keep
 
his thoughts together; they disquiet and bedim
his brain; these memories ever vex and weary him:
and at the table where he sits he falls asleep.

Translated by John Cavafy

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

- Original Greek Poem

- Translation by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard