The Horses Of Achilles (C. P. CAVAFY)

The Horses Of Achilles (C. P. CAVAFY)

When they saw that Patroclus was slain,

who had been so stalwart, and strong, and young,

the horses of Achilles started to weep;

their immortal nature was indignant

at the sight of this work of death.

They would shake their heads and toss their manes,

stamp the ground with their feet, and mourn

Patroclus who they realized was lifeless–– undone––

worthless flesh now––his spirit lost––

defenseless––without breath––

returned from life to the the great Nothing.


Zeus saw the tears of the immortal horses

and grew sad. “At the wedding of Peleus,”

he said, “I should not have acted so thoughtlessly;

it would have been better my hapless horses

if we had not given you! What are you doing down there,

among woebegone humanity, the plaything of fate?

You for whom neither death nor old age lie in wait,

you are harassed by transitory calamities.

Men have implicated you in their troubles.”––Yet the two

noble animals went on shedding their tears

for the never-ending calamity of death.





C.P. Cavafy

Translated from the Greek by Rae Dalven


Image: https://affordableartfair.com/antonio-mora-black-horses



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