Half an Hour
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 :)