Since Nine O’Clock
Half past twelve. The time has quickly passed since nine o’clock when I first turned up the lamp and sat down here. I’ve been sitting without reading, without speaking. With whom should I speak, so utterly alone within this house? The apparition of my youthful body, since nine o’clock when I first turned up the lamp, has come and found me and reminded me of shuttered perfumed rooms and of pleasure spent—what wanton pleasure! And it also brought before my eyes streets made unrecognizable by time, bustling city centres that are no more and theatres and cafés that existed long ago. The apparition of my youthful body came and also brought me cause for pain: deaths in the family; separations; the feelings of my loved ones, the feelings of those long dead which I so little valued. Half past twelve. How the time has passed. Half past twelve. How the years have passed.
From Collected Poems and The Unfinished Poems by C. P. Cavafy, translated by Daniel Mendelsohn. Copyright © 2009. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.