From C P Cavafy, as translated by Rae Dalven
The days of our future stand before us
like a row of little lighted candles--
golden, warm, and lively little candles.
The days gone by remain behind us,
a mournful line of burnt-out candles:
the nearest ones are still smoking,
cold candles, melted and bent.
I do not want to look at them; their form saddens me,
and it saddens me to recall their first light.
I look ahead at my lighted candles.
I do not want to turn back, lest I see and shudder--
how quickly the somber line lenghthens,
how quickly the burnt-out candles multiply.
An Old Man
In the inner room of the noisy cafe
and old man sits bent over a table;
a newspaper before him, no companion beside him.
And in the scorn of his miserable old age,
he meditates how little he enjoyed the years
when he had strength, the art of the word, and good looks.
He knows he has aged much; he is aware of it, he sees it,
and yet the time when he was young seems like
yesterday. How short a time, how short a time.
And he ponders how Wisdom had deceived him;
and how he always trusted her--what folly!--
the liar who would say, "Tomorrow. You have ample time."
He recalls impulses he curbed; and how much
joy he sacrificed. Every lost chance
now mocks his senseless prudence.
... But with so much thinking and remembering
the old man reels. And he dozes off
bent over the table of the cafe.
Without consideration, without pity, without shame
they have built big and high walls around me.
And now I sit here despairing.
I think of nothing else: this fate gnaws at my mind;
for I had many things to do outside.
Ah why didn't I observe them when they were building the walls?
But I never heard the noise or the sound of the builders.
Imperceptibly they shut me out of the world.
There are many other really really good ones that I like, "Ithaca" and "The City" but I'm too lazy to type them out. So go find a copy and read Cavafy's for yourself.