A Young Poet in his Twenty-Fourth Year

Brain, work now as well as you can.
A one-sided passion is destroying him.
He's in a maddening situation.
Every day he kisses the face he worships,
his hands are on those exquisite limbs.
He's never loved before with this degree of passion.
But the beautiful fulfilment of love
is lacking: that fulfilment
which both of them have to want with the same intensity.

(They aren't equally given to the abnormal form of pleasure;
only he's completely possessed by it.)

And so he's wearing himself out, all on edge.
Then -to make things worse- he's out of work.
He manages somehow to borrow
a little here and there (sometimes almost begging for it)
and he just gets by.
He kisses those adored lips, excites himself
on that wonderful body -though he now feels
it only acquiesces. And then
he drinks and smokes, drinks and smokes;
and he drags himself to the cafes all day long,
wearily drags the sickness consuming his beauty.
Brain, work now as well as you can.

Constantine P. Cavafy

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