Monday, October 20, 2014

27 June 1906, 2 P.M. by Constantine P. Cavafy


27 June 1906, 2 P.M.

When the Christians brought him to be hanged,
the innocent boy of seventeen,
his mother, who there beside the scaffold
had dragged herself and lay beaten on the ground
beneath the midday sun, the savage sun,
now would moan, and howl like a wolf, a beast,
and then the martyr, overcome, would keen
“Seventeen years only you lived with me, my child.”
And when they took him up the scaffold’s steps
and passed the rope around him and strangled him,
the innocent boy, seventeen years old,
and piteously it hung inside the void,
with the spasms of black agony–
The youthful body, beautifully wrought–
His mother, martyr, wallowed on the ground
and now she keened no more about his years:
“Seventeen days only,” she keened,
“seventeen days only I had joy of you, my child.”

(Translation by Daniel Mendelsohn)



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