Days of 1896

He'd become completely degraded. His erotic tendencies,
condemned and strictly forbidden
(but innate for all that) were the cause of it:
society was totally narrow-minded.
He'd gradually lost what little money he had,
then his social standing, then his reputation.
Nearly thirty, he'd never worked a full year-
at least not at a legitimate job.
Sometimes he earned enough to get by
acting the go-between in deals considered shameful.
He ended up the type likely to compromise you thoroughly
if you were seen around with him too often.

But this wasn't the whole story -that wouldn't be fair;
the memory of his beauty deserves better.
There is another angle; seen from that
he appears attractive, appears
a simple, genuine child of love,
without hesitation putting
the pure sensuality of his pure flesh
above his honour and reputation.

Above his reputation? But society,
totally narrow-minded, had all its values wrong.

Constantine P. Cavafy

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