“They must be made so light that / their bodies, their feet, must clearly show / they do not tread the earth, but run on the sea.

As you have probably heard, I am no novice.

A good deal of stone passes through my hands.

And in my native land, Tyana, they know

me well; and here too senators have ordered

numerous statues from me.

 

And let me show you

some of them right now. Look closely at this Rhea:

venerable, full of forbearance, quite ancient.

Look closely at Pompey. Marius,

Aemilius Paulus, Scipio Africanus.

Faithful likenesses, as good as I could make them.

Patroclus (I will retouch him a little).

Near that yellowish marble

those pieces over there, is Caesarion,

 

And now for some time I have been busy

making a Poseidon. I am studying

the horses in particular, how to mold them.

They must be made so light that

their bodies, their feet, must clearly show

they do not tread the earth, but run on the sea.

 

But here is the work that I love best,

that I have toiled over with feeling and with the greatest care;

him, on a warm day of summer,

when my mind was soaring toward the ideal,

I dreamt of him, of this young Hermes here.

Poetry Ptuesday – Sculptor of Tyana by Cavafy (Translated by Rae Dalven)
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