Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The music vanishes

Constantin Cavafy

The god forsakes Antony

When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive—don’t mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.
Above all, don’t fool yourself, don’t say
it was a dream, your ears deceived you:
don’t degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
as is right for you who were given this kind of city,
go firmly to the window
and listen with deep emotion, but not
with the whining, the pleas of a coward;
listen—your final delectation—to the voices,
to the exquisite music of that strange procession,
and say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.

- Constantine P. Cavafy (1911) tr Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

The university is to close down its music department. The students staged a touching demonstration today in front of the council chamber. They had three brass, a violin and a lot of drums. At one point they broke into Miles Davis. I was watching them from my window, as it isn't my normal day in, and was about to attend the meeting which was the reason for my presence. Even from the window it was loud and poignant and sweet.

The ant said to the grasshopper: now dance! But there was no music, so the ant turned over into a dreamless sleep from which there was no waking.

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