I went to Sloane Square last night to review his entertainment "Mortimer's Miscellany", a blend of memoir, verse and music. One of the poems that was new to me, I'm ashamed to say, was Cavafy's "Waiting for the Barbarians" (sometimes translated as "Expecting The Barbarians.") The sentiments are worth pondering, even for those of us who don't subscribe to Sir J's politics. Here are the opening lines...

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are to arrive today.

Why such inaction in the Senate? Why do the Senators sit and pass no laws?

Because the barbarians are to arrive today.
What laws can the Senators pass any more?
When the barbarians come they will make the laws.

And here's how it ends...

Why all of a sudden this unrest and confusion. (How solemn the faces have become).
Why are the streets and squares clearing quickly,and all return to their homes, so deep in thought?

Because night is here but the barbarians have not come.And some people arrived from the borders,and said that there are no longer any barbarians.

And now what shall become of us without any barbarians?
Those people were some kind of solution.
|||Clive|||http://clivedavis.blogspot.com/2004/10/sir-john-mortimer-holds-court-at-royal.html|||10/19/2004 09:34:00 pm|||||||||