Constantine P. Cavafy
Kleitos' Illness - Poem by Constantine P. Cavafy
Kleitos, a likeable young man,
about twenty-three years old
with a first-class education, a rare knowledge of Greek
is seriously ill. He caught the fever
that reaped a harvest this year in Alexandria.
The fever found him already worn out morally
by the pain of knowing that his friend, a young actor,
had stopped loving and wanting him.
He's seriously ill, and his parents are terribly worried.
An old servant who brought him up
is also full of fear for Kleitos' life;
and in her panic
she remembers an idol she used to worship
when she was young, before she came there as a maid,
to the house of distinguished Christians, and turned Christian
She secretly brings some votive bread, some wine and honey,
and places them before the idol. She chants whatever phrases
she remembers from old prayers: odds and ends. The ninny
doesn't realize that the black demon couldn't care less
whether a Christian gets well or not.
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