When the Watchman Saw the Light by C.P. Cavafy

When the Watchman Saw the Light

Winter, summer, the watchman sat there looking out from the roof of Atreus' palace. Now he has good news to report. He's seen the fire light up in the distance and he's happy; besides, the drudgery's over now: it's hard to sit there night and day in heat and cold, waiting for a fire to show on the peak of Arachnaion. Now the longed-for signal has appeared. Yet when happiness comes it brings less joy than one expected. But at least we've gained this much: we've rid ourselves of hope and expectation. Many things will happen to the house of Atreus: no need to be wise to guess this now the watchman has seen the light. So let's not exaggerate. The light is good; and those coming are good, their words and actions also good. And let's hope all goes well. But Argos can do without the house of Atreus. Ancient houses are not eternal. Of course many people will have much to say. We should listen. But we won't be deceived by words such as Indispensable, Unique, and Great. Someone else indispensable and unique and great can always be found at a moment's notice.