Returning From Greece
Well, we're nearly there, Hermippos.
Day after tomorrow, it seems - that's what the captain said.
At least we're sailing our seas,
the waters of our own countries - Cyprus, Syria, Egypt -
waters we know and love.
Why so silent? Ask your heart:
didn't you too feel happier
the further we got from Greece?
What's the point of fooling ourselves?
That wouldn't be properly Greek, would it?
It's time we admitted the truth:
we're Greeks also - what else are we?-
but with Asiatic tastes and feelings,
tastes and feelings
sometimes alien to Hellenism.
It isn't correct, Hermippos, for us philosophers
to be like some of our petty kings
(remember how we laughed at them
when they used to come to our lectures?)
who through their showy Hellenified exteriors
(Macedonian exteriors, naturally)
let a bit of Arabia peep out now and then,
a bit of Media they can't keep back.
And to what laughable lengths the fools went
trying to cover it up!
No, that's not at all correct for us.
For Greeks like us that kind of pettiness won't do.
We simply can't be ashamed
of the Syrian and Egyptian blood in our veins;
we should really honour it, delight in it.
Constantine P. Cavafy
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