Thursday, March 7, 2013

the great Yes and the great No

Che Fece… Il Gran Refiuto

For some people the day comes
when they have to declare the great Yes
or the great No. It’s clear at once who has the Yes
ready within him; and saying it,

he goes from honor to honor, strong in his conviction.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
he’d still say no. Yet that no—the right no—
drags him down all his life.

— C.P. Cavafy (Alexandria, 1863-1933)
[translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard] 
Constantine Cavafy, “Che Fece… Il Gran Refiuto,” translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard, from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems. Copyright 1975 by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard.