Constantine P. Cavafy

(1863 - 1933)

[Cavafy] Cavafy, one of the most prominent Greek poets, was born on April 29, 1863 and died on the same date in 1933 in Alexandria (Egypt). Here's a short biographical note by the poet himself:

I am from Constantinople by descent, but I was born in Alexandria -- at a house on Seriph Street; I left very young, and spent much of my childhood in England. Subsequently I visited this country as an adult, but for a short period of time. I have also lived in France. During my adolescence I lived over two years in Constantinople. It has been many years since I last visited Greece.

My last employment was as a clerk at a government office under the Ministry of Public Works of Egypt. I know English, French, and a little Italian.

Here are a few of my favorite poems by Cavafy, translated into English. I have included the Greek original, but you will need Greek fonts to view these properly. If you do not have Greek fonts, or your browser is not set to display them, the Greek titles will look strange, but you will be able to view the English translation with no problems.

Walls (1896) Τείχη
An old man (1897) Ενας γέρος
Supplication (1898) Δέησις
Candles (1899) Κεριά
The first step (1899) Το πρώτο σκαλί
Che fece .... il gran rifiuto (1901) Che fece .... il gran rifiuto
Interruption (1901) Διακοπή
The windows (1903) Τα παράθυρα
Thermopylae (1903) Θερμοπύλες
Waiting for the Barbarians (1904) Περιμένοντας τους βαρβάρους Listen to the poem in Greek
Desires (1904) Επιθυμίες
Voices (1904) Φωνές
Trojans (1905) Τρώες
Monotony (1908) Μονοτονία
Footsteps (1909) Τα βήματα
The City (1910) Η Πόλις
The Satrapy (1910) Η Σατραπεία
The Ides of March (1911) Μάρτιαι Ειδοί
The god forsakes Antony (1911) Απολείπειν ο θεός Αντώνιον
Finalities (1911) Τελειωμένα
Ionian Song (1911) Ιωνικόν
Dangerous things (1911) Τα επικίνδυνα
Ithaca (1911) Ιθάκη Listen to the poem in Greek
Alexandrian kings (1912) Αλεξανδρινοί βασιλείς
Return (1912) Επέστρεφε
As much as you can (1913) Οσο μπορείς
I went (1913) Επήγα
Of the shop (1913) Του μαγαζιού
Theodotus (1915) Ο Θεόδοτος
But wise men perceive approaching things (1915) Σοφοί δε προσιόντων
He vows (1915) Ομνύει
Manuel Comnenos (1915) Μανουήλ Κομνηνός
When they are roused (1916) Οταν διεγείρονται
One of their Gods (1917) Κάποιος Θεός των
So much I gazed -- (1917) Ετσι πολύ ατένισα --
Days of 1903 (1917) Μέρες του 1903
Caesarion (1918) Καισαρίων
Remember, body... (1918) Θυμήσου, σώμα...
Nero's Term (1918) Η διορία του Νέρωνος
Understanding (1918) Νόησις
Envoys from Alexandria (1918) Πρέσβεις απ' την Αλεξάνδρεια
Aemilianus Monae, Alexandrian, 628-655 A.D. (1918) Αιμιλιανός Μονάη, Αλεξανδρεύς, 628-655 μ.Χ.
In harbor (1918) Εις το επίνειον
Darius (1920) Ο Δαρείος
Anna Comnena (1920) Αννα Κομνηνή
Those who fought for the Achaean League (1922) Υπέρ της Αχαϊκής Συμπολιτείας πολεμήσαντες
He came to read --(1924) Ηλθε για να διαβάσει --
Apollonius of Tyana in Rhodes (1925) Απολλώνιος ο Τυανεύς εν Ρόδω
Priest at the Serapeum (1926) Ιερεύς του Σεραπίου
Anna Dalassené (1927) Αννα Δαλασσηνή
In the same space (1929) Στον ίδιο χώρο
They should have provided (1930) Ας φρόντιζαν
According to the formulas of ancient Grecosyrian magi (1931) Κατά τες συνταγές αρχαίων Ελληνοσύρων μάγων
In 200 B.C. (1931) Στα 200 π.Χ.
Unpublished poems
Addition (1897) Πρόσθεσις
Hidden (1908) Κρυμμένα
Half an hour (1917) Μισή ώρα
The bandaged shoulder (1919) Ο δεμένος ώμος

On Cavafy

Here's a short poem on Cavafy that I liked very much.

References

C.P.Cavafy, Poems, Athens, Ikaros. This is the authoritative edition of Cavafy's poetry in Greek.

C.P.Cavafy, Hidden Poems, Athens, Ikaros. A comprehensive book of Cavafy's unpublished poems in Greek.

The complete poems of Cavafy, translated by Rae Dalven, Harcourt Brace. An excellent English translation of Cavafy's poems, which I have consulted for my own translation here.


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(C) George Barbanis