Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A poem ouverture...

As I was thinking about perfumed matters in general and Parfum de Peau in particular (whose review will run shortly, check back later on!), with its very relevant maladjusted story behind its creators, a poem by a well-loved voice whispered to my ear...

The Satrapy

What a misfortune, although you are made
for fine and great works
this unjust fate of yours always
denies you encouragement and success;
that base customs should block you;
and pettiness and indifference.
And how terrible the day when you yield
(the day when you give up and yield),
and you leave on foot for Susa,
and you go to the monarch Artaxerxes
who favorably places you in his court,
and offers you satrapies and the like.
And you accept them with despair
these things that you do not want.
Your soul seeks other things, weeps for other things;
the praise of the public and the Sophists,
the hard-won and inestimable Well Done;
the Agora, the Theater, and the Laurels.
How can Artaxerxes give you these,
where will you find these in a satrapy;
and what life can you live without these.

~Constantine P. Cavafy (1910)

Originally uploaded on this page.


  1. Thank you, E. It's so nice to click over and find this great poem at the Shrine. I really only know Cavafy as a name, but you inspired me to go hunting, and I found a great archive site in English. Can't wait to dive in and learn more.

  2. You're very welcome, M.
    I have often graced the Shrine with tidbits by Cavafy because I love him so.
    I think with your sensibilities (and M would love it as well) you'll be enchanted. It's very interesting to read the background on his life to better understand where he's coming from.
    Have fun!

  3. Beautiful poem, beautiful poet, beautiful choice. Thank you for this, Helg; it crossed my path on just the right day.

  4. You're welcome, Heather. I am glad it hit the right moment for you.


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