The Great Yes

by Constantine P. Cavafy

English version by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard
Original Language Greek

For some people the day comes
when they have to declare the great Yes
or the great No. It's clear at once who has the Yes
ready within him; and saying it,

he goes from honor to honor, strong in his conviction.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
he'd still say no. Yet that no--the right no--
drags him down all his life.

-- from Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry, by Jane Hirshfield

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Recommended Books: Constantine P. Cavafy

C. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems The Complete Poems of Cavafy: Expanded Edition Cavafy's Alexandria Cavafy: A Biography

The Great Yes