Constantine P. Cavafy
Julian at the Mysteries
But when he found himself in darkness,
in the earth's awful depths,
with a group of unholy Greeks,
and bodiless figures appeared before him
with haloes of light,
the young Julian for a moment lost his nerve:
an impulse from his pious years came back
and he crossed himself.
The Figures vanished at once;
the haloes faded away, the lights went out.
The Greeks glanced at each other.
The young man said: 'Did you see the miracle?
I'm frightened, friends. I want to leave.
Didn't you see how the demons vanished
the second they saw me make the holy sign of the cross?'
The Greeks chuckled scornfully:
'Shame on you, shame, to talk that way
to us sophists and philosophers!
If you want to say things like that,
say them to the Bishop of Nicomedia and his priests.
The greatest gods of our glorious Greece
appeared before you.
And if they left, don't think for a minute
that they were frightened by a gesture.
It was just that when they saw you
making that vile, that crude sign,
their noble nature was disgusted
and they left you in contempt.'
This is what they said to him, and the fool
recovered from his holy, blessed fear,
convinced by the unholy words of the Greeks.
Constantine P. Cavafy's Other Poems
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Comments about this poem (Julian at the Mysteries by Constantine P. Cavafy )
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
Edna St. Vincent Millay
(22 February 1892 – 19 October 1950)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(c. 600 BCE)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
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