Poetry Wednesday: C. P. Cavafy

An excerpt from Second Odyssey (translated from the Greek by George Economou)

Telemachos’s affection, Penelope’s
fidelity, his father’s longevity,
his band of old friends, his people’s
loyal devotion, the blissful repose of home
poured like rays of joy into the seafarer’s heart.

And just like rays, dissolved.

A thirst
awoke inside him for the sea.

This translation of C. P. Cavafy was published in the Fall 2015 issue of The Iowa Review.

Stay tuned.

Poetry Friday: C. P. Kavafy

from “Gray” (1917)

Those gray eyes will have lost their charm — if he’s still alive;
that lovely face will have spoiled.

Memory: keep them the way they were.
And, memory, whatever you can bring back of that love,
whatever you can, bring back tonight.

Alexandria, City of Memory: C. P. Cafavy, “In the Evening”

I picked up a letter again,
read it over and over till the light faded.

Then, sad, I went out on the balcony,
went out to change my thoughts at least by seeing
something of this city I love,
a little movement in the streets, in the shops.

(1916)

Longing and C. P. Cavafy’s “The City” (Published April 1910)

“You said:  “I’ll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart lies buried like something dead.
How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I’ve spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them
totally.”

You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
This city will always pursue you.
You’ll walk the same streets, grow old
in the same neighborhoods, turn gray in these same houses.
You’ll always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things else-
where;

there’s no ship for you, there’s no road.
Now that you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you’ve destroyed it everywhere in the world.

— excerpt from C. P. Cavafy’s “The City”

And here is Cavafy in a note dated April 28, 1907 (three years before the poem above was published).  In April 1907, the poet was forty-four years old:

By now I’ve gotten used to Alexandria, and it’s very likely that even if I were rich I’d stay here. But in spite of this, how the place disturbs me. What trouble, what a burden small cities are — what lack of freedom.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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