still, the cemeteries here are overflowing with my ancestors.

by dorarandom


Εἲπες· «Θὰ πάγω σ᾽ ἄλλη γῆ, θὰ πάγω α᾽ ἄλλη θάλασσα.
Μιὰ πόλις ἄλλη θὰ βρεθεῖ καλλίτερη ἀπὸ αὐτή.
Κάθε προσπάθεια μου μιὰ καταδίκη εἶναι γραφτή·
κ᾽ εἶν᾽ ἡ καρδία μου—σὰν νεκρός—θαμένη.
Ὁ νοῦς μου ὣς πότε μὲς στὸν μαρασμὸν αὐτὸν θὰ μένει.
Ὅπου τὸ μάτι μου γυρίσω, ὅπου κι ἂν δῶ
ἐρείπια μαῦρα τῆς ζωῆς μου βλέπω ἐδῶ,
ποὺ τόσα χρόνια πέρασα καὶ ρήμαξα καὶ χάλασα.»

Καινούριους τόπους δὲν θὰ βρεῖς, δὲν θά ᾽βρεις ἄλλες θάλασσες.
Ἡ πόλις θὰ σὲ ἀκολουθεῖ. Στοὺς δρόμους θὰ γυρνᾶς
τοὺς ἴδιους. Καὶ στὲς γειτονιὲς τὲς ἴδιες θὰ γερνᾶς·
καὶ μὲς στὰ ἴδια σπίτια αὐτὰ θ᾽ ἀστρίζεις.
Πάντα στὴν πόλι αὐτὴ θὰ φθάνεις. Γιὰ τὰ ἀλλοῦ—μὴ ἐλπίζεις—
δὲν ἔχει πλοῖο γιὰ σέ, δὲν ἔχει ὁδό.
Ἔτσι ποὺ τὴ ζωή σου ρήμαξες ἐδῶ
στὴν κώχη τούτη τὴν μικρή, σ᾽ ὅλην τὴν γῆ τὴν χάλασες.


You said, “I will go to another land, another sea,
a different city will be found for me, better than this;
here it’s written: in each endeavor I am condemned;
and my heart (as of the dead) is buried.
My mind (how long) in this withering world, how can it last?
Wherever I turn to look, wherever my eyes rest,
I see ruins, the charred ruins of my life here,
after so many years gone by, barren and spent.”

New lands will not be yours to find, you will not find other seas.
The city will follow you everywhere. You’ll wander the streets,
these same streets, grow old in the same neighborhoods—
in the same houses you’ll turn a soft pallor and gray.
You’ll end up in this city. As for other things, other places,
cease your hoping—no ship exists for you, no road is left.
Just as you’ve torn your life apart in this patch of earth,
you’ve turned it to a wasteland the whole world over.

Κωνσταντίνος Π. Καβάφης (Constantine P. Cavafy)  (trans. John Chioles, 2011; C. P. Cavafy: Poems – The Canon [Harvard Early Modern and Modern Greek Library]. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press)