The City


Manolis Aligizakis,

You said: “I’ll go to another land, to another sea;
I’ll find another city better than this one.
Every effort I make is ill-fated, doomed;
and my heart —like a dead thing—lies buried.

How long will my mind continue to wither like this?
Everywhere I turn my eyes, wherever they happen to fall
I see the black ruins of my life, here
where I’ve squandered, wasted and ruined so many years.”

New lands you will not find, you will not find other seas.
The city will follow you. You will return to the same streets.
You will age in the same neighborhoods; and in these
same houses you will turn gray. You will always
arrive in the same city. Don’t even hope to escape it,
there is no ship for you, no road out of town.
As you have wasted your life here, in this small corner
you’ve wasted it in the whole world.

Translation by Manolis Aligizakis
Ekstasis Editions/2011

Manolis Aligizakis,

6 thoughts on “The City”

  1. Hi Manolis,
    This is a beautiful poem. Is this yours or one of Kavafi’s that you have translated in your book from the Greek? I’ve been writing something similar for some time now but I cannot finish it or better I haven’t finish it yet. Great job!

  2. Manolis, this poem by Cavafy is great. So true. One cannot escape oneself. It reminds me of my youth. I said to a European neighbour, “I would love to go to Europe,” to which she replied, “remember, you always take yourself with you.” I guess she had never forgotten her homeland roots. Optimism for the future is essential. Thanks so much. Gabrielle.

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