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"Among the key books of our century and should be read by anyone who cares for poetry."--Washington Post Book World
C. P. Cavafy (1863-1933) lived in relative obscurity in Alexandria, and a collected edition of his poems was not published until after his death. Now, however, he is regarded as the most important figure in twentieth-century Greek poetry, and his poems are considered among the most powerful in modern European literature. Here is an extensively revised edition of the acclaimed translations of Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard, which capture Cavafy's mixture of formal and idiomatic use of language and preserve the immediacy of his frank treatment of homosexual themes, his brilliant re-creation of history, and his astute political ironies. The resetting of the entire edition has permitted the translators to review each poem and to make alterations where appropriate. George Savidis has revised the notes according to his latest edition of the Greek text. About the first edition: "The best [English version] we are likely to see for some time."--James Merrill, The New York Review of Books "[Keeley and Sherrard] have managed the miracle of capturing this elusive, inimitable, unforgettable voice. It is the most haunting voice I know in modern poetry."--Walter Kaiser, The New Republic
You said: “I'll go to some other land, I'll go to some other sea.There's bound to be another city that's better by far.My every effort has been ill-fated from the start;my heart-like something dead-lies buried away;How long will my mind endure this slow decay? Wherever I look, wherever I cast my eyes,I see all round me the black rubble of my lifewhere I've spent so many ruined and wasted years.”You'll find no new places, you won't find other shores.The city will follow you. The streets in which you pacewill be the same, you'll haunt the same familiar places,and inside those same houses you'll grow old.You'll always end up in this city. Don't bother to hopefor a ship, a route, to take you somewhere else; they don't exist.Just as you've destroyed your life, here in thissmall corner, so you've wasted it through all the world.[1894; 1910] IthacaAs you set out on the way to Ithacahope that the road is a long one,filled with adventures, filled with discoveries.The Laestrygonians and the Cyclopes,Poseidon in his anger: do not fear them,you won't find such things on your wayso long as your thoughts remain lofty, and a choiceemotion touches your spirit and your body.The Laestrygonians and the Cyclopes,savage Poseidon; you won't encounter themunless you stow them away inside your soul,unless your soul sets them up before you.Hope that the road is a long one.Many may the summer mornings bewhen-with what pleasure, with what joy-you first put in to harbors new to your eyes;may you stop at Phoenician trading postsand there acquire the finest wares:mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,and heady perfumes of every kind:as many heady perfumes as you can.Many Egyptian cities may you visitthat you may learn, and go on learning, from their sages.Always in your mind keep Ithaca.To arrive there is your destiny.But do not hurry your trip in any way.Better that it last for many years;that you drop anchor at the island an old man,rich with all you've gotten on the way,not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.Ithaca gave you the beautiful journey;without her you wouldn't have set upon the road.But now she has nothing left to give you.And if you find her poor, Ithaca didn't deceive you.As wise as you will have become, with so much experience,you will understand, by then, these Ithacas; what they mean.[1910; 1911] Hidden (1908)From all I did and from all I saidthey shouldn't try to find out who I was.An obstacle was there and it distortedmy actions and the way I lived my life.An obstacle was there and it stopped meon many occasions when I was going to speak.The most unnoticed of my actionsand the most covert of all my writings:from these alone will they come to know me.But perhaps it's not worth squanderingso much care and trouble on puzzling me out.Afterwards-in some more perfect society-someone else who's fashioned like mewill surely appear and be free to do as he pleases.
Introduction: The Poet—Historian
A Note on Pronunciation of Proper Names
i PUBLISHED POEMS
The City The Satrapy But Wise Men Apprehend What Is Imminent Ides of March Finished The God Abandons Antony Theodotus Monotony Ithaca As Much As You Can Trojans King Demetrius The Glory of the Ptolemies The Retinue of Dionysus The Battle of Magnesia The Seleucid’s Displeasure Orophernes Alexandrian Kings Philhellene The Steps Herodes Atticus Sculptor from Tyana The Tomb of Lysias the Grammarian Tomb of Eurion That Is He Dangerous Manuel Comnenus In the Church Very Rarely In Stock Painted Morning Sea Song of Ionia In the Entrance of the Café
One Night Come Back Far Off He Swears I Went Chandelier
Comprehension In the Presence of the Statue of Endymion Envoys from Alexandria Aristobulus Caesarion Nero’s Deadline Safe Haven One of Their Gods Tomb of Lanes Tomb of Iases In a City of Osrhoene Tomb of Ignatius In the Month of Hathor For Ammon, Who Died at 29 Years of Age, in 610
Aemilian Son of Monaës, an Alexandrian, 628—655 A.D.
Whenever They Are Aroused To Pleasure I’ve Gazed So Much–
In the Street The Window of the Tobacco Shop Passage In Evening Gray Below the House The Next Table Remember, Body Days of 1903
The Afternoon Sun To Stay Of the Jews (50 A.D.)
Imenus Aboard the Ship Of Demetrius Soter (162—150 B.C.)
If Indeed He Died Young Men of Sidon (400 A.D.)
That They Come–
Darius Anna Comnena Byzantine Noble, in Exile, Versifying Their Beginning Favour of Alexander Balas Melancholy of Jason, Son of Cleander: Poet in Commagene: 595 A.D.
Demaratus I Brought to Art From the School of the Renowned Philosopher Maker of Wine Bowls Those Who Fought on Behalf of the Achaean League For Antiochus Epiphanes In an Old Book In Despair Julian, Seeing Indifference Epitaph of Antiochus, King of Commagene Theater of Sidon (400 A.D.)
Julian in Nicomedia Before Time Could Alter Them He Came to Read–
The Year 31 B.C. in Alexandria John Cantacuzenus Triumphs Temethus, an Antiochene: 400 A.D.
Of Colored Glass The 25th Year of His Life On the Italian Seashore In the Boring Village Apollonius of Tyana in Rhodes Cleitus’s Illness In a Municipality of Asia Minor Priest of the Serapeum In the Taverns A Great Procession of Priests and Laymen Sophist Departing from Syria Julian and the Antiochenes Anna Dalassene Days of 1896
Two Young Men, 23 to 24Years Old Greek Since Ancient Times Days of 1901
You Didn’t Understand AYoung Man, Skilled in the Art of the Word–
in His 24th Year In Sparta Portrait of a Young Man of Twenty-Three Done by His Friend of the Same Age, an Amateur In a Large Greek Colony, 200 B.C.
Potentate from Western Libya Cimon Son of Learchus, 22 Years Old, Teacher of Greek Letters (in Cyrene)
On the March to Sinope Days of 1909, ’10, and ’11
Myres: Alexandria in 340 A.D.
Alexander Jannaeus, and Alexandra Beautiful, White Flowers As They Went So Well Come Now, King of the Lacedaemonians In the Same Space The Mirror in the Entrance He Asked About the Quality–
Should Have Taken the Trouble According to the Formulas of Ancient Greco-Syrian Magicians In 200 B.C.
Days of 1908
On the Outskirts of Antioch
Poems Published 1897—1908
Contents of the Sengopoulos Notebook
Voices Longings Candles An Old Man Prayer Old Men’s Souls The First Step Interruption Thermopylae Che Fece . . . Il Gran Rifiuto The Windows Walls Waiting for the Barbarians Betrayal The Funeral of Sarpedon The Horses of Achilles
ii REPUDIATED POEMS
Brindisi The Poet and the Muse Builders Word and Silence Sham-el-Nessim Bard Vulnerant Omnes, Ultima Necat Good and Bad Weather Timolaus the Syracusan Athena’s Vote The Inkwell Sweet Voices Elegy of the Flowers Hours of Melancholy Oedipus Ode and Elegy of the Streets Near an Open Window A Love Remembrance The Death of the Emperor Tacitus The Eumenides’ Footfalls The Tears of Phaëthon’s Sisters Ancient Tragedy Horace in Athens Voice from the Sea The Tarentines Have Their Fun The Funeral of Sarpedon
iii UNPUBLISHED POEMS
The Beyzade to His Lady-Love Dünya Güzeli When, My Friends, I Was in Love . . .
Nichori Song of the Heart To Stephanos Skilitsis Correspondences According to Baudelaire
[Fragment of an untitled poem]
“Nous N’osons Plus Chanter les Roses”
Indian Image Pelasgian Image The Hereafter The Mimiambs of Herodas Azure Eyes The Four Walls of My Room Alexandrian Merchant The Lagid’s Hospitality In the Cemetery Priam’s March by Night Epitaph Displeased Theatregoer Before Jerusalem Second Odyssey He Who Fails The Pawn Dread In the House of the Soul Rain La Jeunesse Blanche Distinguishing Marks Eternity Confusion Salome Chaldean Image Julian at the Mysteries The Cat The Bank of the Future Impossible Things Addition Garlands Lohengrin Suspicion Death of a General The Intervention of the Gods King Claudius The Naval Battle When the Watchman Saw the Light The Enemies Artificial Flowers Strengthening September of 1903
January of 1904
On the Stairs In the Theatre Poseidonians The End of Antony
27 June 1906, 2 P.M.
Hidden Hearing of Love
“The Rest Shall I Tell in Hades to Those Below”
That’s How Homecoming from Greece Fugitives Theophilus Palaeologus And I Got Down and I Lay There in Their Beds Half an Hour House with Garden A Great Feast at the House of Sosibius Simeon The Bandaged Shoulder Coins It Was Taken From the Drawer
The Regiment of Pleasure Ships Clothes
Poems Written in English
[More Happy Thou, Performing Member]
Leaving Therápia Darkness and Shadows
Notes Further Reading Acknowledgments Index of Titles