25 Oct 2014

Pagan Poetry: "If Indeed He Died?" by C.P.Cavafy

Constantine P. Cavafy was a Greek poet, born in Alexandria in 1863, who developed a fascination for the classical ― and therefore the pagan ― world. This is a translation by the poet himself of his Greek poem into English.

"Where did the Sage withdraw? where was he lost?
After the numerous miracles he worked,
after the fame and glamour of his teaching
that spread themselves throughout so many nations,
he hid himself; and no one ever learnt
with certainty what had become of him,
(nor anybody ever came across
a tombstone under which he lay).
There were who said he died at Ephesus.
But Damis never wrote it; nothing of death
of Apollonius did Damis write.
Others asserted that he had become
invisible at Lindus. Or, perchance
may it be true that ancient tale which told
how he was lifted up from Crete, from near
Dictynna’s ancient shrine? But then we have
his marvellous, his supernatural
showing of himself to a young man studying
at Tyana. Perhaps the time for his return
and re-appearance to the world at large,
is not yet come; or it may be that even at this time
he wanders in our midst in some disguise,
unknowable. But he will surely
appear again, just as he was before
and teaching what is right; and then, no doubt,
he will bring back the worship of our gods,
and our Hellenic and artistic festivals"

So, in his squalid, narrow dwelling-house,
after he had perused Philostratus,
"Concerning Apollonius of Tyana," —
mused one of the few pagans that were left,
the very few pagans now left; otherwise, one
of no account, a timid, timorous soul,
who publicly professed to be a Christian
and showed himself in church. It was the period when,
with godliness and reverence, old Justin reigned,
and Alexandria, a God-fearing city,
abhorred all miserable idolaters.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent blog. Are you on you twitter?