Σαν σώματα ωραία νεκρών πού δεν εγέρασαν
καί τά'κλεισαν μέ δάκρυα, σέ μαυσωλείο λαμπρό,
μέ ρόδα στό κεφάλι καί στά πόδια γιασεμιά—
έτσ’ οί επιθυμίες μοιάζουν πού επέρασαν
χωρίς νά εκπληρωθούν, χωρίς ν’αξιωθή καμιά
της ηδονής μιά νύχτα ή ένα πρωΐ της φεγγερό.
Like the bodies of beautiful youths who died before aging,
locked away with tears in a bright mausoleum,
with roses at the head and jasmine at the feet—
such are the desires that pass away
without being fulfilled, without ever experiencing
a single night of pleaure or one of her bright mornings.
I used to have a pair of glasses just like these. But they met an untimely death at Campus a couple of years ago. Oh Manray (sigh)...
Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933) wrote poems that capture the tensions and transitions of the Hellenistic world in a way that both reflects his own Alexandria at the turn-of-the-century, but also resonates with contemporary readers in the midst of today’s “culture wars.” Moreover, his poems on love, longing, and desire cannot help but arouse even the most repressed reader. Cavafy, like Whitman, found beauty and genuine human connection in even the most fleeting physical encounters. His most erotic poems are often as much about pathos as they are about passion.
C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems translated by George Savidis
Before Time Could Change Them: The Complete Poems translated by T.C. Theoharis
Cavafy: A Critical Biography by Robert Liddell