Thursday, January 22, 2009


Like the beautiful bodies of those who died before growing old,
sadly shut away in sumptuous mausoleum,
roses by the head, jasmine at the feet --
so appear the longings that have passed
without being satisfied, not one of them granted
a single night of pleasure, or one of its radiant mornings.

Constantine P. Cavafy 

- - -
Lines remembered on one such day, a day filled with unsatiated longings. Longings that have passed.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Half an Hour

Half an Hour

-C.P. Cavafy

I never had you, nor I suppose

will I ever have you. A few words, an approach,

as in the bar the other day—nothing more.

It’s sad, I admit. But we who serve Art,

sometimes with the mind’s intensity,

can create—but of course only for a short time—

pleasure that seems almost physical.

That’s how in the bar the other day—

mercifully helped by alcohol—

I had half an hour that was totally erotic.

And I think you understood this

and stayed slightly longer on purpose.

That was very necessary. Because

with all the imagination, with all the magic alcohol,

I needed to see your lips as well,

needed your body near me. 


Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992) 


I started reading a few of Cavafy's poems today- they were originally written in Greek (I read the translated versions circulating online). Amlan da had mentioned one of Cavafy's poems during his lectures on Criticism- a poem called King Claudius, which is a unique take on the merits of Claudius and the much debated 'madness' that afflicted Hamlet. I shall reserve my opinions on Cavafy for the time being and concentrate on reading him up properly :)