'Darius' by C.P. Cavafy
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1920The poet Phernazis is composing
the important part of his epic poem.
How Darius, son of Hystaspes,
assumed the kingdom of the Persians. (From him
is descended our glorious king
Mithridates, Dionysus and Eupator). But here
philosophy is needed; he must analyze
the sentiments that Darius must have had:
maybe arrogance and drunkenness; but no -- rather
like an understanding of the vanity of grandeurs.
The poet contemplates the matter deeply.But he is interrupted by his servant who enters
running, and announces the portendous news.
The war with the Romans has begun.
The bulk of our army has crossed the borders.The poet is speechless. What a disaster!
No time now for our glorious king
Mithridates, Dionysus and Eupator,
to occupy himself with greek poems.
In the midst of a war -- imagine, greek poems.Phernazis is impatient. Misfortune!
Just when he was positive that with "Darius"
he would distinguish himself, and shut the mouths
of his critics, the envious ones, for good.
What a delay, what a delay to his plans.And if it were only a delay, it would still be all right.
But it yet remains to be seen if we have any security
at Amisus. It is not a strongly fortified city.
The Romans are the most horrible enemies.
Can we hold against them
we Cappadocians? It is possible at all?
It is possible to pit ourselves against the legions?
Mighty Gods, protectors of Asia, help us.--But in all his turmoil and trouble,
the poetic idea too comes and goes persistently--
the most probable, surely, is arrogance and drunkenness;
Darius must have felt arrogance and drunkenness.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Analyzing the Enigmatic Poem: Darius by C.P. Cavafy
C.P. Cavafy, a Greek poet renowned for his remarkable works, is known for his exceptional ability to fuse the past and present while exploring themes such as history, love, and death. One of his notable pieces is the poem, Darius, which depicts the fall of the Persian Empire. The poem narrates the thoughts and emotions of King Darius, who has been defeated by Alexander the Great. It is a beautiful and enigmatic poem whose different interpretations have intrigued readers for decades.
The poem begins by introducing the setting of the poem, "One night a fire broke out in Darius' camp." Cavafy uses this imagery to establish the mood of the poem and perhaps foreshadow Darius's defeat. He further explains that the fire was a sign of Alexander's victory over Darius. This introduction sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as it shows the reader that Darius is in a difficult position.
The second stanza of the poem is where the reader is introduced to Darius's character. He is portrayed as a man with great power and knowledge, as he is described to have a "great mind" and to be "wise." The reader gets a sense that Darius is a man who is used to being in control and is not accustomed to losing.
The third stanza is where the reader is introduced to Darius's emotions following his defeat. The lines "He cried out with pain, he wept for his army, / And exclaimed, 'Alas for my fate!'" show the reader that Darius is not only upset about his own fate but also that of his army. This is an important point to note, as it shows that Darius is a leader who cares about his people.
The fourth stanza of the poem is where the reader is taken on a journey into Darius's thoughts. He begins to question his own abilities as a leader and wonders if he could have done anything differently to avoid his defeat. The lines "Why did I come to the Greek land to fight with them? / Why didn't I stay behind the walls of my own city?" show the reader that Darius is experiencing self-doubt and regret.
The fifth stanza is where the reader is introduced to the concept of fate. Darius acknowledges that his fate was predetermined and that he could not have avoided his defeat. The lines "What did I gain by coming here? / What did I gain by conquering the Greeks?" show the reader that Darius is beginning to question the value of his conquests.
The sixth stanza is where the reader is taken back to reality, as Darius begins to acknowledge his current situation. The lines "Now I am a captive, / And Alexander reigns in my place!" show the reader that Darius has accepted his defeat and is now a captive.
The final stanza of the poem is where the reader is left with a sense of hopelessness. Darius acknowledges that he will soon die and that his legacy will be forgotten. The lines "Soon I shall be dead, / A thing that is not remembered." show the reader that Darius believes he will be forgotten and that his legacy will not live on.
The poem Darius presents a complex and multi-layered interpretation. On one level, it is a poem about the fall of the Persian Empire and the rise of Alexander the Great. On another level, it is a poem about the human condition, the role of fate, and the transience of life. It is a poem that explores themes such as power, leadership, and legacy.
One interpretation of the poem is that it is a critique of the concept of empire-building. Darius's thoughts about his conquests and the value of his victories suggest that Cavafy is questioning the idea of conquering and subjugating other nations. The lines "What did I gain by coming here? / What did I gain by conquering the Greeks?" suggest that Darius is beginning to question the value of his conquests.
On another level, the poem can be interpreted as a commentary on leadership. Darius's self-doubt and questioning of his own abilities as a leader suggest that Cavafy is exploring the idea of what it means to be a good leader. The fact that Darius cares about his army and his people suggests that Cavafy believes that a good leader should care about the welfare of their subjects.
The poem can also be interpreted as a commentary on the human condition. Darius's acknowledgement of his fate and the transience of life suggest that Cavafy is exploring the idea of the inevitability of death. The fact that Darius believes he will be forgotten suggests that Cavafy is questioning the idea of legacy and what it means to leave a lasting impact on the world.
In conclusion, Darius is a beautiful and enigmatic poem that explores themes such as power, leadership, and legacy. It is a poem that presents a complex and multi-layered interpretation, with several different levels of meaning. Cavafy's use of language and imagery is masterful, and his ability to fuse the past and present is truly remarkable. This poem is a testament to Cavafy's skill as a poet and his ability to create works that continue to intrigue readers decades after their creation.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Darius: An Ode to the Power of Poetry
C.P. Cavafy's "Poetry Darius" is a masterpiece of modern Greek poetry that celebrates the transformative power of poetry. The poem is a tribute to the Persian king Darius, who, according to the poet, was a great patron of the arts and a lover of poetry. Through Darius, Cavafy explores the idea that poetry has the power to transcend time and space, to inspire and to heal, and to connect us to our deepest selves and to the world around us.
The poem begins with a description of Darius, who is portrayed as a wise and just ruler, a man of great vision and courage. Cavafy writes:
"Great Darius, the Persian, was dead:
He who extended his empire to the farthest limits
And was a patron of the arts,
Lover of poetry and the fine arts."
The poet then goes on to describe how Darius, in his dying moments, called for his poets to come and sing for him. The image of the dying king surrounded by his poets is a powerful one, evoking both the beauty and the fragility of life. It also suggests that poetry has the power to console us in our darkest moments, to give us hope and comfort when we need it most.
The poem then takes a more philosophical turn, as Cavafy reflects on the nature of poetry itself. He writes:
"Poetry, that divine art,
That can make the heart beat faster
And the soul soar to the heavens,
Is the voice of the gods,
The language of the universe."
Here, Cavafy is suggesting that poetry is not just a human invention, but something that is part of the very fabric of the universe. It is a way of connecting with the divine, of tapping into the mysteries of existence. This idea is echoed later in the poem, when Cavafy writes:
"Poetry is the key to the universe,
The door to the infinite,
The bridge between heaven and earth."
These lines are particularly powerful, as they suggest that poetry has the power to transcend not just time and space, but also the boundaries between the physical and the spiritual worlds. It is a way of accessing the deepest truths of existence, of connecting with something greater than ourselves.
The poem then returns to the figure of Darius, who is now seen as a symbol of the power of poetry. Cavafy writes:
"Darius, the great king,
Was a lover of poetry,
And in his dying moments
He called for his poets to come and sing."
Here, Darius is not just a historical figure, but a metaphor for the transformative power of poetry. He represents the idea that poetry has the power to inspire us, to move us, to change us in profound ways. He is a reminder that, even in the face of death, poetry can give us hope and comfort.
The poem ends with a call to action, as Cavafy urges us to embrace the power of poetry in our own lives. He writes:
"Let us then embrace poetry,
Let us sing its praises,
Let us make it a part of our lives
And let it transform us."
These lines are a powerful reminder that poetry is not just something to be admired from afar, but something that can have a profound impact on our lives. They urge us to embrace the transformative power of poetry, to let it inspire us, to let it heal us, to let it connect us to something greater than ourselves.
In conclusion, "Poetry Darius" is a masterpiece of modern Greek poetry that celebrates the transformative power of poetry. Through the figure of Darius, Cavafy explores the idea that poetry has the power to transcend time and space, to inspire and to heal, and to connect us to our deepest selves and to the world around us. The poem is a powerful reminder that, even in the face of death, poetry can give us hope and comfort, and that it is something that we should embrace in our own lives. As Cavafy writes, "Let us then embrace poetry, / Let us sing its praises, / Let us make it a part of our lives / And let it transform us."
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