990. Thermopylae, by Constantine Cavafy

Honor to those who in the life they lead
define and guard a Thermopylae.
Never betraying what is right,
consistent and just in all they do
but showing pity also, and compassion;
generous when they're rich, and when they're poor,
still generous in small ways,
still helping whenever they can;
always speaking the truth
yet without hating those who lie.

And even more honor is due to them
when they foresee (as many do foresee)
that Ephialtis will turn up in the end,
that the Medes will break through after all.

(trans Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard)

Source: C. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems

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