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<TN>Stallings, A.E.</TN>

   His expectations, they were all mistaken.

   He imagined he would do great things whose fame
   would bring an end to the humiliation
   that ever since the Battle of Magnesia
   had dragged his homeland down, so once again
   Syria would be a mighty power,
   with troops and fleets, vast fortresses, and wealth.

   He suffered, he grew bitter while in Rome,
   as he sensed, in conversation with his friends,
   the scions of great houses, in the tact
   and courtesy they showed him, he the son
   of King Seleucus Philopater, he felt
   that there was always, secretly, a slighting
   of those Hellenizing dynasties
   which had fallen: they were not for serious action,
   and most unsuitable to rule the people.
   He would withdraw, and grow enraged, he'd vow
   things won't turn out at all as they presume,
   behold, he is a man of his resolve,
   he'll struggle, he will act, put things to rights.

   If only he could find a way back east,
   arrange for his escape from Italy--
   and all that strength he has within his soul,
   his drive, he would convey unto the people.

   Could he but find himself in Syria!
   He'd been so young when he had left his homeland,
   he only dimly remembered how it looked,
   but in his mind he mused upon it always
   as something you approached with reverence,
   a sacred place, lovely to behold,
   a vision of Hellenic ports and cities.

   And now?
      Now hopelessness and consternation.
   And they were right, the boys of Rome: It's not
   possible to keep them all propped up,
   the dynasties of Macedonian conquest.

   Regardless, he has striven, he has struggled
   as much as he was able. In the midst
   of his black disappointment, there is just
   one thing that he still reckons up with pride:
   that even in his failure he displays
   a valor never vanquished to the world.

   The rest--the rest was dreams and vanities,
   this Syria--it seems another country,
   it's the land now of Heracleides, and Balas.

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Translated from the Greek by A. E. Stallings

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Author:Cavafy, Constantine
Article Type:Poem
Geographic Code:7SYRI
Date:Sep 22, 2016
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