translated from the modern Greek by John Cavafy

Without reflection, without mercy, without shame,
they built strong walls and high, and compassed me about.

And here I sit now and consider and despair.

It wears away my heart and brain, this evil fate:
I had outside so many things to terminate.

Oh! why when they were building could I not beware!

But never a sound of building, never an echo came.
Insensibly they drew the world and shut me out. 




Χωρίς περίσκεψιν, χωρίς λύπην, χωρίς αιδώ
μεγάλα κ’ υψηλά τριγύρω μου έκτισαν τείχη.

Και κάθομαι και απελπίζομαι τώρα εδώ.
Άλλο δεν σκέπτομαι: τον νουν μου τρώγει αυτή η τύχη·

διότι πράγματα πολλά έξω να κάμω είχον.
A όταν έκτιζαν τα τείχη πώς να μην προσέξω.

Aλλά δεν άκουσα ποτέ κρότον κτιστών ή ήχον.
Aνεπαισθήτως μ’ έκλεισαν από τον κόσμον έξω.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 10, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.