5. Half past twelve
Constantine P. Cavafy
Since Nine O’Clock
Half past twelve. Time’s gone by quickly
since nine o’clock when I lit the lamp
and sat down here. I’ve been sitting without reading,
without speaking. Completely alone in the house,
who could I talk to?
Since nine o’clock when I lit the lamp
the shade of my young body
has been haunting me, reminding me
of shut scented rooms,
of past passion – what daring passion.
And it’s also brought back to me
streets now unrecognizable,
bustling night clubs now closed,
theatres and cafes no longer there.
The shade of my young body
also brought back the things that make us sad:
family grief, separations,
the feelings of my own people,
of the dead so little recognized.
Half past twelve: how the time has gone by.
Half past twelve: how the years have gone by.
Constantine P. Cavafy (1918)
Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrand