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Cavafy

Posted to What Are You Reading?




Konstantinos P. Kabaphes, who called himeslf Constantine P. Cavafy when talking to his non-Greek friends, lived from 1863-1933, mainly in Alexandria.
All his work is worth reading. He was very selective about what he published.
W.H.Auden:'I can think of poems which, if Cavafy were unknown to me, I should have written quite differently or perhaps not at all. Yet I do not know a word of Modern Greek, so that my only access to Cavafy's poetry has been through English and French translations....
What, then, is it in Cavafy's poems that survives translation and excites? Something I can only call, most inadequately, a tone of voice, a personal speech....
Cavafy has 3 principal concerns: love, art, and politics in the original Greek sense....'
In his poetry he combined demotic and purist Greek. Perhaps typical of the man - neither pandering nor excluding. Much of his poetry is set either in the post-Alexandrian empires or in Rome during the time of Constantine and his immediate succesors. Also much poetry set in the Alexandria of his own time, often dealing with his homosexual exploits.