The Final Fight

In the entrance hallway of that sumptuous home there was an enormous mirror, very old; acquired at least eighty years ago.

A strikingly beautiful boy, a tailor’s assistant, (on Sunday afternoons, an amateur athlete), was standing with a package. He handed it to one of the household, who then went back inside to fetch a receipt. The tailor’s assistant remained alone, and waited.

He drew near the mirror, and stood gazing at himself, and straightening his tie. Five minutes later they brought him the receipt. He took it and left.

But the ancient mirror, which had seen and seen again, throughout its lifetime of so many years, thousands of objects and faces—but the ancient mirror now became elated, inflated with pride, because it had received upon itself perfect beauty, for a few minutes.

—Poem by C. P. Cavafy, written in 1930.
Translated from the Greek by Daniel Mendelssohn.