In a Large Greek Colony, 200 B.C.

That things in the Colony aren't what they should be
no one can doubt any longer,
and though in spite of everything we do move forward,
maybe -as more than a few believe- the time has come
to bring in a Political Reformer.

But here's the problem, here's the rub:
they make a tremendous fuss
about everything, these Reformers.
(What a relief it would be
if they were never needed.) They probe everywhere,
question the smallest detail,
and right away think up radical changes
that demand immediate execution.

Also, they have a liking for sacrifice:
Get rid of that property;
your owning it is risky:
properties like those are what ruin colonies.
Get rid of that income,
and the other connected with it,
and this third, as a natural consequence:
they are substantial, but it can't be helped-
the responsibility they create is damaging.

And as they proceed with their investigation,
they find an endless number of useless things to eliminate-
things that are, however, difficult to get rid of.

And when, all being well, they finish the job,
every detail now diagnosed and sliced away,
and they retire (also taking the wages due to them),
it's a wonder anything's left at all
after such surgical efficiency.

Maybe the moment hasn't arrived yet.
Let's not be too hasty: haste is a dangerous thing.
Untimely measures bring repentance.
Certainly, and unhappily, many things in the Colony are absurd.
But is there anything human without some fault?
And after all, you see, we do move forward.

Constantine P. Cavafy

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