C.P. Cavafy, Thermopylae

By David Ferry b. 1924 David Ferry
Honor is due to those who are keeping watch,
Sentinels guarding their own Thermopylae;
Never distracted from what is right to do,
And right to be; in all things virtuous,
But never so hardened by virtue as not to be
Compassionate, available to pity;
Generous if they’re rich, but generous too,
Doing whatever they can, if they are poor;
Always true to the truth, no matter what,
But never scornful of those who have to lie.

Even more honor is due when, keeping watch,
They see that the time will come when Ephialtes
Will tell the secret to the Medes and they
Will know the way to get in through the goat-path.

Source: Poetry (January 2012).


This poem originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

January 2012
 David  Ferry


David Ferry is an acclaimed American poet and translator. Ferry’s translations, which include some of the world's major works of poetry including The Odes of Horace, and both The Eclogues and Georgics of Virgil, are known for their fluency and grace. In addition to his lauded translations, Ferry is also a prize-winning poet in his own right. His poetic works include Dwelling Places (1993) and Of No Country I Know: New and . . .

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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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