The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Thursday

The City
By C.P. Cavafy
Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

You said: "I'll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart lies buried like something dead.
How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I've spent so many years, wasted them,
destroyed them totally."

You won't find a new country, won't find another shore.
The city will always pursue you.
You'll walk the same streets, grow old
in the same neighborhoods, turn gray in these same houses.
You'll always end up in this city. Don't hope for things elsewhere:
there's no ship for you, there's no road.
Now that you've wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you've destroyed it everywhere in the world.


From last Sunday's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World, in which Mary Karr writes about poets who "brought laser-keen invective to fending off heartbreak." She imagined that he wrote "The City" after being "seduced and abandoned by some traveling Romeo, since the first stanza makes use of quotation marks -- separating the poet from the speaker. In the second stanza comes the poet's smackdown comeback. Ever leave a painful conversation thinking, I wish I'd said...'? Cavafy says it for you. We could interpret this poem as being about the payback inevitable for the pompously self-deceiving...and yet, when a girlfriend of mine watched her husband of 30 years drive off in a fancy sports car to 'find himself,' she took comfort in those words of Cavafy's set down more than a century ago."

I have bronchitis. In many ways it is a relief to have this confirmed by a doctor (who had the misfortune of having his stethescope pressed against my chest when he said "breathe deeply" and getting an earful of amplified coughing), since it means 1) I have antibiotics and 2) I have a logical reason why I can't catch my breath after walking upstairs, rather than thinking I am just a total wimp with a cold. I had a fever when I got to the doctor even after having taken Tylenol, which he didn't think was a good sign, either.

So I missed Earth Day and Shakespeare's birthday and I think I might have missed World Penguin Day, and I cannot work up a proper rant about biased election coverage except to wonder when the entire blogosphere went so insane that they can no longer do math. It is embarrassing to be associated with the Democratic Party at present...between the superdelegate situation, the Florida-and-Michigan situation, the redrawing of the district maps and what have you, it is very easy to feel like the whole process has been subverted by a handful of party bigwigs and a few candidates with inflated egos. There are about 1800 things I wish the Democrats would fix. But that's so many fewer than the things I wish the Republicans would fix that it's simply not a contest for me and I get nauseous when I encounter "I'm not voting if ___ gets the nomination" as someone's solution. How will putting McCain in the White House help anything?

From Richmond's Museum of the Confederacy, a chess set made by Major Robert J. Lawrence at Camp Douglas. He was captured at Fort Donelson.

The pocket watch of Major General Harry Heth, a Virginian, who carried it at the Battle of Gettysburg where he was wounded and forced to yield command of his division.

The Hardee pattern hat of Colonel Francis Bartow, a Confederate congressman turned military officer who died leading at counterattack against Federal forces.

The full-dress beaver-skin chapeau of Captain Andrew J. Grayson, who commanded the "Sharpshooters" from Bland County, Virginia.

The owner of this elaborate Greco-Roman style calvary helmet frpm the Charleston Light Dragoons is unknown.

The tobacco pouch of Brigadier General Henry Clayton, a prominent Alabama politician and lawyer before the war.

Hubbard Roberts of the 150th New York Volunteers brought home this Confederate wooden canteen after trading it for his own with J.A. Brewer of the 36th Alabama Infantry during a truce to bury the dead outside Atlanta.

We watched "Planet of the Ood," which is far too wonderful for me to try to write about in my current oxygen-deprived state -- that's two weeks in a row the Doctor reduced me to tears and I bloody love Donna Noble! Then, for some inexplicable reason since I've sworn it off, we watched Battlestar Galactica: Razor, I think to see whether some of the things I'd heard happened in it would offend me as much as I thought they might (to my surprise, they did not...there's a lot I loathe about Cain but I completely understood her hatred of Gina and all the specific ways in which she wanted her hurt). More tomorrow when hopefully I will not be coughing up a lung. Those of you who know Adam will appreciate the significance of this, though: he found his Pokemon Leaf Green! In the mess that was his room but is now mostly cleaned up! Yay!

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