The Selected Poems of Cavafy eBook ✓ The Selected


The Selected Poems of Cavafy The Greek poet C P Cavafy 1863 1933 is one of the most singular and poignant voices of twentieth century European poetry conjuring a rich interior world through lyrical evocations of remembered passions imagined monologues and dramatic retellings of his native Alexandria's ancient past I came across a uote from one of Cavafy's poems while visiting an exhibition in Athens and I was intrigued enough to buy this small selection of his poems from the museum gift shop His directness and often melancholic style appealed to me as did the inspiration he drew from ancient historyMy favourites were for obvious reasons the historical ones Ithaca The God Abandons Anthony and Ionic but also the City I felt like his poems often echoed my own feelings about belonging and exploration and I see why he strikes a chord with so many people I definitely intend to give his entire 154 poetries a read Great poems A few that I liked a lotVoicesIdeal voices the beloved voicesof those who have died or of those who arelost to us as if they were deadSometimes they speak to us in dreams;sometimes in thought the mind hears themAnd with their sounds for a moment returnsounds from our life’s first poetry –like music at night far off fading out CandlesThe days of the future stand before uslike a line of burning candles –golden candles warm with lifeBehind them stand the days of our pasta pitiful row of candles extinguishedthe nearest still sending up their smokecold and melted withered sticksI don’t want to look; their image makes me sadit saddens me to recall their kindlingI look ahead at the ones still burningI don’t want to turn and see with horrorhow uickly the line of shadow lengthenshow uickly the number of snuffed candles grows PrayerThe sea’s taken a sailor to her depths below –his mother still unaware rushes to golight a narrow candle before the Virgin’s shrinefor his swift return good weather or a signthat she struggles against the wind to hearBut as she bows and reiterates her prayerthe icon listens sorrowful and glumuite sure that her son will never come The Year 31 BC in AlexandriaFrom his small village on the city’s outskirtspowdered in dust from the journeythe peddler arrived ‘Frankincense’ and ‘gum’‘the finest oil’ and ‘perfumes for your hair’he cries through the streets But amid the tumultthe bands playing and the parades he can’t be heardHe is bumped jostled by the crowds untiltotally confused he asks ‘What is this madness?’Then someone tosses him the palace’s gigantic lie –that Antony is victorious in Greece Of Coloured GlassI am uite touched by one detailin the coronation at Blachernai of John Cantacuzenusand Irene daughter of Andronicus AsanBecause they had only a few precious stonesthe poverty of our wretched kingdom being so greatthey wore artificial gems hundreds of pieces made of glassred green and blue There is nothingbase or undignified in my viewabout these little bitsof coloured glass On the contrary they seemlike a sorrowful protestagainst the undeserved misfortunes of the crownThey are the symbols of what should have been wornof what assuredly ought to have been wornat the coronation of Lord John Cantacuzenusand his Lady Irene daughter of Andronicus Asan Anna ComnenaIn the prologue of her AlexiadAnna Comnena laments her widowhoodHer soul is awhirl ‘And with rivers of tears’ she tells us‘I bathe my eyes in sorrow for the tempests’ of her life‘sorrow for the insurrections’ she faced The grief burns‘in the very marrow of my bone in the rending of my soul’But the truth is there was but one griefthat this ambitious lady ever knew;only one profound regret did she feelthis haughty Greek lady even though she will not admit itshe never managed for all her cunningto take possession of the empire She watched as it was takensnatched from her very hands by the insolent John Nero’s DeadlineNero was not particularly concerned when he heardthe Delphic oracle’s prophecy‘Years seventy and three beware’He still had plenty of time to enjoy himselfHe is only thirty The deadline appointedby the god seems far enough awayto take precautions about any future dangersHe will return to Rome now a bit fatiguedbut fatigued in a delicious way from this journeywhere every day provided some new delight –in the Greek theatres the gardens and gymnasiathe evenings spent in the towns of Achaeaand yes above all the joy of those naked bodiesSo much for Nero Meanwhile in Spain Galbasecretly recruits and trains his forcesan old man aged seventy three The FootstepsOn an ebony bedsteadadorned with eagles made of coralNero lies deep in sleep – uiet unconscious happyin the prime of his body’s vigour;in the beautiful ardour of his youthBut in the alabaster hallthat holds the ancient shrine of the Ahenobarbithe Lares of his house are anxiousThese minor household gods are tremblingtrying to conceal their already negligible bodiesFor they heard a terrible noisea deadly sound spiralling up the staircaseiron soled footsteps shaking the stepsThe miserable Lares near fainting nowhuddle in the corner of the shrinejostling and stumbling over each otherone little god falling over the nextfor they knew what sort of noise it was;they recognize by now the footsteps of the Furies Cavafy's writing was shaped by a sense of fatalism and loss he lost his father and a family fortune in his childhood; as an adult he lost ten people he was really close to in twenty years; he found it difficult to adapt to parochialism in Alexandria the necessity of working for a living he worked in a ministry but supplemented his income with gambling and playing the stock market; he had to hide his homosexuality Fascinated by history and literature of ancient Greece and Byzantium in his poetry he built a cyclic endless vision of history happening here and now He distributed his poems to friends telling them every now and them to return them so that he could make the necessary corrections; he published rarely and reluctantly dividing his poems into the canon the repudiated and the hidden A poets' poetThe CityYou said 'I will go to another land; I will try another seaAnother city will turn up better than this oneHere everything I do is condemned in advanceand my heart like a dead man's lies buriedHow long can my mind remain in this swamp?Wherever I turn wherever I look I gazeon the ruins of my life here where I’ve spentand botched and wasted so many years'You will find no new land; you will find no other seasThis city will follow you You will wander the samestreets and grow old in the same neighborhoods;your hair will turn white in the same housesAnd you will always arrive in this city Abandon any hopeof finding another place No ship no road can take you thereFor just as you’ve ruined your life herein this backwater you’ve destroyed it everywhere on earth before 1911 1910translated by Avi SharonCavafy often uses the form of dialogue or dramatic monologue; what strikes me the most in this poem is how it changed between its first version In the Same City and the final one above the speaker's personal plea of the earlier version I hate the people here and they hate me here where I've lived half my life changes into a universal reflection on human fate and the fact that many of us carry a secret which in our view makes it impossible for us to find fulfillmentThe Afternoon SunThis room how well I know itNow they’re renting it and the one next dooras commercial space The whole house is nowoffices for brokers salesmen entire firmsAh this room how familiar it isHere near the door stood the sofaa Turkish carpet just before it;nearby was a shelf with two yellow vases;on the right—no facing it — was an armoire with a mirrorThe desk where he wrote stood in the middlealong with three large wicker chairsBeside the window lay the bedwhere we made love so many timesAll of these poor old furnishings must still exist somewhereBeside the window lay the bed;the afternoon sunlight reached only half way across itThat afternoon at four o’clock we partedjust for a week alas that week became forever 1919translated by Avi SharonAround 1919 Cavafy's erotic poems gained a decidedly homoerotic character – before that he would often write obscuring the lover's sex However convinced he was that his sexual orientation was absolutely normal and however strongly he believed that Later in a perfect society someone else made just like me is certain to appear and act freely he still felt that his society was not ready to accept him as he wasAs Much As You CanIf you cannot fashion your life as you would likeendeavour to do this at leastas much as you can do not trivialize itthrough too much contact with the worldthrough too much activity and chatterDo not trivialize your life by parading itrunning around displaying itin the daily stupidityof cliues and gatheringsuntil it becomes like a tiresome guest 1911translated by Avi SharonPathologically according to his friends shy and withdrawn Cavafy proposes to his readers life far from the frenzied crowd by their own rules untrivialized in the vein of the French proverb „pour vivre heureux vivons cachés”The God Abandoning AntonySuddenly around midnight when you hearan invisible troupe of players passwith exuisite music and solemn voices do not lament in vain your vanishing luck the many deedsundone all of your life plansgone astray no do not lamentEmboldened now and as one long preparedmake your farewell to her the Alexandria that is leavingAbove all do not fool yourself do not sayit was just a dream or that your ears deceived you;do not stoop to such empty hopesEmboldened now and as one long preparedas is fitting for someone like you worthy of such a cityapproach the window steadilyand listen stirred but not to the pointof whining or complaining as cowards doLet that music be your final joythe exuisite instruments of that mysterious troupeand make your farewell to her the Alexandria you are losing 1911translated by Avi SharonThis poem is based on a story related by Plutarch the night before Alexandria was conuered by Octavian Julius Caesar's son Mark Antony heard the voices of a spectral procession praising Dionysus his protective deity leaving the city and interpreted it as a sign that the god was withdrawing his blessing and support One of the many poems by Cavafy on the importance of losing beautifully and sticking to one's rules also when we know we are about to lose Thermopylae” Fun fact Mark Antony commited suicide that very nightIt took me a while to fully appreciate Cavafy and it was only this year when I understood his melancholic charm I find it interesting that though he does not seem to be taught much at a secondary school level my students really seemed to like him and did not find him too depressingNote on the translation I mostly prefer the Edmund KeeleyPhilip Sherrard translation but Avi Sharon's translations of some of the poems are pleasing Waiting for the Barbarians The Afternoon Sun The introduction is nothing to write home about but the historical notes were really usefulTitle image “Desiderium” by Edward Burne Jones 1873 The portrait of Maria Zambaco 1843–1914 CP Cavafy’s cousin the artist and model of the Pre Raphaelites via C P Cavafy twitter I love Cavafy and his totally free way of writing poetry This edition has both Greek and English poems The translation is pretty solid well made and the feeling is the same which is extrordinary His style has a lot to do with it and i would recommend it to people who are not familiar with poetry Amazing edition 3

  • Paperback
  • 152 pages
  • The Selected Poems of Cavafy
  • Constantinos P. Cavafy
  • English
  • 10 October 2016
  • 9781897430767

About the Author: Constantinos P. Cavafy

ΚΠ Καβάφης was a major Greek poet who worked as a journalist and civil servant His consciously individual style earned him a place among the most important figures not only in Greek poetry but in Western poetry as well He has been called a skeptic and a neo pagan In his poetry he examines critically some aspects of Christianity patriotism and homosexuality though he was not always comfortable with his role as a nonconformist He published 154 poems; dozens remained incomplete or in sketch form His most important poetry was written after his fortieth birthday


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