K P Kavafis: One of Their Gods

greek market place

just walked through Seleukeia market

just as dusk was starting to fall

a tall youth of perfect beauty

with unquenchable joy in his eyes

with black and perfumed hair

and passers-by stared at him

and each asked each if they knew him

if he were a Syrian Greek, or a stranger


but some who looked more carefully

understood and moved aside

and out of sight beneath the colonnade

among the shadows, out of the evening light

making his way to the quarter that lives

fully at night, offering orgies and pleasures

and all kinds of drunkenness and lust

they would wonder which of Them he was

and for what guilty pleasure

he walked through the streets of Seleukeia

far from those sacred, honoured mansions


One of Their Gods

K P Kavafis

Translation © R J Dent (2009)

www.rjdent.com

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