As Dionysus abandoned Antony in Alexandria, darkness deserts us now

Constantine Cavafy wrote the following poem about Antony who, besieged in Alexandria by Octavian, heard the procession of the god Dionysus forsaking him. Leonard Cohen used it, of course, in his song “Alexandra Leaving.” I add but the titular interpretation, and point to epiphany.

When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
your work that failed, your life’s plans
all proving deceptive—don’t mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.
Above all, don’t fool yourself, don’t say
it was a dream, your ears deceived you:
don’t degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
as is right for you who proved worthy of this kind of city,
go firmly to the window
and listen with deep emotion, but not
with the whining, the pleas of a coward;
listen—your final delectation—to the voices,
to the exquisite music of that strange procession,
and say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.