Constantine P. Cavafy

Constantine P. Cavafy Poems

  • 101.  
    One dreary September day
    Emperor Manuel Komninos felt his death was near.
  • 102.  
    My mind now moves to distant places.
    I'm walking the streets of Elsinore, through its squares, and I recall
  • 103.  
    The rich house had in the hall
    An enormous mirror, very old; Bought at least eighty years ago.
  • 104.  
    Engulfed by fear and suspicion,
    mind agitated, eyes alarmed, we try desperately to invent ways out,
  • 105.  
    Half past twelve. Time has gone by quickly
    since nine o'clock when I lit the lamp and sat down here. I've been sitting without reading,
  • 106.  
    I have come from Miletos to Latmos
    on a white chariot drawn by four snow-white mules, all their trappings silver.
  • 107.  
    <i>Neither the letter C, they say, nor the
    letter K had ever harmed the city.... We, finding interpreters... learned that these
  • 108.  
    A procession of priests and laymenâ??
    each walk of life representedâ?? moves through streets, squares, and gates
  • 109.  
    He became completely degraded. His erotic tendency,
    condemned and strictly forbidden (but innate for all that) , was the cause of it:
  • 110.  
    He has lost him completely.     And now he is seeking
    on the lips of     every new lover the lips of his beloved;     in the embrace
  • 111.  
    I should like to relate this memory ...
    but it is so faded now ... scarecely anthing is left -- because it lies far off, in the years of my early manhood.
  • 112.  
    Kratisiklia didn't deign to allow
    the people to see her weeping and grieving: she walked in dignity and in silence.
  • 113.  
    He's an old man. Used up and bent,
    crippled by time and indulgence,he slowly walks along the narrow street.
  • 114.  
    He went inside the cafe where they used to sit together.
    It was here, three months ago, that his friend told him:'We're completely broke -so hard up, the two of us,
  • 115.  
    In these dark chambers here what weary days
    I spend, walk up and down as in a mazeTo find the windows.----Only to unclose
  • 116.  
    Everything he'd hoped for turned out wrong.
    He'd seen himself doing great things,ending the humiliation that had kept his country down
  • 117.  
    As you'll have heard, I'm no beginner.
    I've handled a lot of stone in my time,and in my own country, Tyana, I'm really quite famous.
  • 118.  
    From all I've done and all I've said
    let them not seek to find who I've been.An obstacle stood and transformed
  • 119.  
    Nero was not worried when he heard
    the prophecy of the Delphic Oracle."Let him fear the seventy three years."
  • 120.  
    On this wine bowlâ??pure silver,
    made for the house of Herakleidis,where good taste is the ruleâ??
  • 121.  
    Walking yesterday in an outlying neighbourhood,
    I went by the houseI used to go to when I was very young.
  • 122.  
    In the boring village where he worksâ??
    clerk in a textile shop, very youngâ??and where he's waiting out the two or three months ahead,
  • 123.  
    At least let me now deceive myself with illusions
    so as not to feel my empty life.And yet I came so close so many times.
  • 124.  
    Let me stop here. Let me, too, look at nature awhile.
    The brilliant blue of the morning sea, of the cloudless sky,the yellow shore; all lovely,
  • 125.  
    I've looked on beauty so much
    that my vision overflows with it.The body's lines. Red lips. Sensual limbs.
  • 126.  
    I got bored looking at the stage
    and raised my eyes to the box circle.In one of the boxes I saw you
  • 127.  
    Try to keep them, poet,
    those erotic visions of yours,however few of them there are that can be stilled.
  • 128.  
    It's like him, of course,
    this little pencil portrait.Hurriedly sketched, on the ship's deck,
  • 129.  
    With words, with countenance, and with manners
    I shall build an excellent panoply;and in this way I shall face evil men
  • 130.  
    When Thetis and Peleus got married
    Apollo stood up at the sumptuous wedding feastand blessed the bridal pair
  • 131.  
    When you set out for Ithaka
    ask that your way be long,full of adventure, full of instruction.
  • 132.  
    Antioch is proud of its splendid buildings,
    its beautiful streets, the lovely countryside around it,its teeming population;
  • 133.  
    On hearing about great love, respond, be moved
    like an aesthete. Only, fortunate as you've been,remember how much your imagination created for you.
  • 134.  
    We interrupt the work of the gods,
    hasty and inexperienced beings of the moment.In the palaces of Eleusis and Phthia
  • 135.  
    He goes regularly to the taverna
    where they'd met the previous month.He made inquiries, but they weren't able to tell him
  • 136.  
    My kind old father
    whose love for me has always stayed the sameI mourn my kind old father
  • 137.  
    What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

  • 138.  
    He'd been sitting in the cafe since ten-thirty
    expecting him to turn up any minute.Midnight had gone, and he was still waiting for him.
  • 139.  
    This room, how well I know it.
    Now they're renting it, and the one next to it,as offices. The whole house has become
  • 140.  
    We in Antioch were astonished when we heard
    what Julian was up to now.
  • 141.  
    Eagles of coral
    adorn the ebony bedwhere Nero lies fast asleep
  • 142.  
    Kimos, son of Menedoros, a young Greek-Italian,
    devotes his life to amusing himself,like most young men in Greater Greece
  • 143.  
    "Observing, then, that there is great contempt for the gods
    among us"â??he says in his solemn way.Contempt. But what did he expect?
  • 144.  
    I was not bound. I let myself go completely; went
    To those indulgences, half actual,And half were turned about in my own brain;
  • 145.  
    The things he timidly imagined as a schoolboy
    are openly revealed to him now. And he walks the streets,stays out all night, gets involved. And as is right (for our kind of art)
  • 146.  
    He said that he had hurt himself on a wall or that he had fallen.
    But there was probably another reasonfor the wounded and bandaged shoulder.
  • 147.  
    The poet Phernazis is composing
    the important part of his epic poem.How Darius, son of Hystaspes,
  • 148.  
    His subject, 'The Character of Dimaratos',
    which Porphyry proposed to him in conversationwas outlined by the young sophist as follows
  • 149.  
    That we've broken their statues,
    that we've driven them out of their temples,doesn't mean at all that the gods are dead.
  • 150.  
    Like beautiful bodies of the dead, who had not grown old
    and they shut them with tears, in a magnificent mausoleum,with roses at the head and jasmine at the feet --
Total 186 poems written by Constantine P. Cavafy

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We swing ungirded hips,
And lightened are our eyes,
The rain is on our lips,
We do not run for prize.
We know not whom we trust
Nor whitherward we fare,
But we run because we must
Through the great wide air.
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