C. P. Cavafy
Be afeared of splendour, o soul.
And your ambitions, if you cannot
overcome them, then with hesitancy and caution
pursue them. Just as far as you advance,
be you so diligent and careful.
And when you reach your peak – a Caesar now:
when you bear the outline of a man so celebrated,
then, especially, take care as you go out on the road,
a ruler conspicuous with his escort,
if there happens to approach from the crowd
an Artemidoros, who brings a letter,
and hurriedly says: ‘Read this at once,
it is something important, which concerns you’
don’t neglect to pause; don’t neglect to postpone
all talk and toil; don’t neglect to rebuff
the multitude who salute and genuflect
(you’ll see them later); let even
the senate itself wait, and urgently grasp
the severe words of Artemidoros.
[Written 1906; Published 1911]