C. P. KAVAFY: Candles

(Translated from the Greek of C. P. Kavafy)

The days to come stand before us
like a line of lit candles,
glowing and warm.

Behind us, the candles of by-gone days
line up, a piteous burnt-out row,
the nearest ones still smoking,
the rest all cold and melted out of shape.

I don’t want to see them; their shape upsets me,
and it upsets me to recall how bright they were.
I look ahead to my lit candles.

I don’t want to turn and see, to my horror,
how quickly that dark row lengthens,
how quickly the burnt-out candles multiply.

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