Understanding

C. P. Cavafy

My juvenile years, my libertine life –
now I see their sense so clearly.

How idle the regret, how futile…

But I didn’t see the sense in them then.

Through the dissolute life of my formative years
bled the instincts of my poetry,
the contours of my art were mapped out.

That’s why the regret would never stick,
and my resolutions to moderate, to change,
would last two weeks at most.

[Written 1915; Published 1918]

Original Greek Poem