Yes, I know his new poems;
all Beirut is raving about them.
I'll study them some other day.
I can't today because I'm rather upset.

Certainly he's more learned in Greek than Libanius.
A better poet than Meleager though? I wouldn't say so.

But Mebis, why talk about Libanius
and books and all these trivialities?
Mebis, yesterday (it happened by chance)
I found myself under Simeon's pillar.

I slipped in among the Christians
praying and worshipping in silence there,
revering him. Not being a Christian myself
I couldn't share their spiritual peace-
I trembled all over and suffered;
I shuddered, disturbed, completely caught up.

Please don't smile; for thirty-five years -think of it-
winter and summer, night and day, for thirty-five years
he's been living, suffering, on top of a pillar.
Before either of us was born (I'm twenty-nine,
you must be younger than me),
before we were born, just imagine it,
Simeon climbed up his pillar
and has stayed there ever since facing God.

I'm in no mood for work today-
but Mebis, I think it better that you tell them this:
whatever the other sophists may say,
I at least recognize Lamon
as Syria's leading poet.

Constantine P. Cavafy

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