Collected Poems
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Collected Poems

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4.37 of 5 stars 4.37  ·  rating details  ·  1,383 ratings  ·  87 reviews
C. P. Cavafy (1863-1933) lived in relative obscurity in Alexandria, and a collected edition of his poems was not published until after his death. Now, however, he is regarded as the most important figure in twentieth-century Greek poetry, and his poems are considered among the most powerful in modern European literature. Here is an extensively revised edition of the acclai...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 8th 1992 by Princeton University Press (first published January 1st 1975)
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Vera
Βαθιά τραγική ποίηση με φιλοσοφικές προεκτάσεις, σκηνικό θεατρικό, λανθάνουσα ειρωνεία, υποβλητική ατμόσφαιρα, αυτοσαρκασμός, αίσθηση τραγικότητας και αδιεξόδου! Η Καβαφική ποίηση είναι επίκαιρη και διαχρονική - το καταφύγιο του σύγχρονου δοκιμαζόμενου ανθρώπου τόσο από τις εξωτερικές καταστάσεις όσο και από τα εσωτερικά εμπόδια που στήνουν "τείχη" και απομακρύνουν από την Ιθάκη...
Vera
Βαθιά τραγική ποίηση με φιλοσοφικές προεκτάσεις, σκηνικό θεατρικό, λανθάνουσα ειρωνεία, υποβλητική ατμόσφαιρα, αυτοσαρκασμός, αίσθηση τραγικότητας και αδιεξόδου! Η Καβαφική ποίηση είναι επίκαιρη και διαχρονική - το καταφύγιο του σύγχρονου δοκιμαζόμενου ανθρώπου τόσο από τις εξωτερικές καταστάσεις όσο και από τα εσωτερικά εμπόδια που στήνουν "τείχη" και απομακρύνουν από την Ιθάκη
Jim Coughenour
Cavafy was born into a Greek family living in Alexandria in 1863, a city which he came to love as his own life. For me, he is the poet of memory, both personal and cultural. There are several excellent translated collections of his poems; I have at least four. In all of them you'll find poems musing about ancient Greeks and Romans right next to verses written in late middle age about the fleeting loves of his youth. Here's one of the latter, one of my favorites (from the translation by Rae Dalve...more
Erik Simon
"Major Literary Event," is a term marketing departments in publishing houses are overusing, but it's the term that seems to describe this book best. I have long enjoyed the dazzling wit, clarity and erudition of Daniel Mendelsohn's prose in his reviews for NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS, and his magesterial introduction to this book exhibits the same qualities as he tells us about Cavafy's life, his work, his demons, his craft. As for the poems Medelsohn excruciatingly translated: they are plain, quie...more
Miriam
Translation is a difficult task, and I hesitate to rate them harshly. But in this case, there are several better translations already available (contrary to what the goodreads entry says, this edition was not originally published in 1979; the entries for the differing Cavafy translations seem all mixed together) so it strikes me as both pointless and hubristic to produce another at all, much less pronounce it "an extraordinary literary event".

Mendelsohn entirely loses the sensuality that charac...more
Trish
There are many translations of Cavafy's poems. Cavafy is thought by other poets to be among the poetry greats of all time. He writes often of love, but he also writes of man's psychological wiliness and attempts to fool himself. His work is very simple, filled with visual, emotional, and erotic cues. He wrote stirringly of man's political nature as it is formed from his personal imperfection. Barnstone, in her Foreword to this volume [translates and] quotes "In a Large Greek Colony, 200 B.C.E."...more
Mounir
من أجمل ما قرأت هذا العام
هذه الترجمة الجميلة للأعمال الكاملة للشاعر اليوناني السكندري قسطنطين كفافيس أعتبرها ضمن الكتب الأساسية أو المرجعية التي أضعها في متناول اليد للرجوع إليها كل حين, على اعتبار أن الإنسان لن ينتهي أبدا من قراءتها, مثلها في ذلك مثل كتب الملاحم والأساطير والكتب المقدسة, ومثل أعمال شكسبير وهوميروس ونجيب محفوظ وفرناندو بيسوا وكل شعراء وأدباء الإنسانية العظام

شعر كفافيس يمكن أن يوصف بالوصف الشائع "السهل الممتنع" وذلك لسهولة فهم شعره وطريقته المباشرة - بل وأحيانا التي تبدو "تعليمي...more
Tom
Jun 21, 2008 Tom rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Cavafy's mixture of two primary subjects -- antiquity and and his life as gay man in Alexandria -- can seem an odd one at first, and though I've tried to find a strong thematic link between the two, at best, I hear a similar tone of nostalgia and loss in his treatment of these subjects. This seemingly disparate subjects, however, make for a pleasurably evolving reading experience.

Initially, I found C's famous poems about antiquity the more appealing ones; for a man fascinated with the distant p...more
Chris Coffman
This is a feast of a book.

Thirty years ago I acquired the translation by Keeley & Sherrard, who were friends of the great Cavafy scholar George Seferis . . . at that time, Cavafy was one of those forbidden pleasures like the PARIS AND NEW YORK DIARIES OF NED ROREM, and OUR LADY OF FLOWERS by Jean Genet that were available in serious LA and New York bookshops of the period.

I was bored by Rorem and Gide, but there were a few great Cavafy poems, it seemed to me at the time, for example "Waitin...more
Bruce
This new and acclaimed translation of the 20th century Greek poet, C.P. Cavafy, by Daniel Mendelsohn is one I’ve long wanted to read. The only Cavafy poem I have read previously is “Ithaca,” and I’ve looked forward to reading more, so my finding this book unexpectedly at the public library was felicitous.

I like Cavafy’s classical allusions and his introspection, his invitation to examine one’s life just where one is, in this moment. His poems invite one to see beyond the surface of classical Gre...more
Peter Crofts
I actually have the paperback edition of this volume which includes the unfinished poems as well. It's a good idea to go that route since many of the unfinished poems would seem to be pretty close to "finished", or at least they read wonderfully.

Mendelsohn, the translator, needs to be praised on two fronts. Firstly as a translator he is sensitive to the subtetly of rhythmn and rhyme with this poet. Cavafy is not unmusical, it's more that his musicality is mininal and austere. Second, the notes t...more
Jim Coughenour
I first encountered Cavafy in the Rae Dalven edition back in the early 80s and immediately fell in love with him. No one has ever fused the poetic ache of eros, memory, sordid physicality and exalted historical consciousness as profoundly as Cavafy – a bookish, unattractive Greek homosexual living in Alexandria at the start of the 20th century. His simplest poems still leave me, sometimes, with a pain and wonder so deep I barely breathe – exactly as you feel when you remember someone you've real...more
Loederkoningin
I was introduced to Greek poet C.P. Cavafy's work by Elizabeth Hand's Waking the Moon. The particular poem published in this book, In the Evening,...I wasn't quite prepared for it to captivate me and drench me into a state of bitter sweet melancholy and nostalgia. A fitting poem for a fascinating book. Determined to find out more about this poet, I then found the canon on the Internet. Such a treasure to discover.

I am confused however by the numerous translations. The versions differ, sometimes...more
David
I happened to find a used copy recently of Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard's original translation of C.P. Cavafy's Collected Poems from 1975. I have owned their revised, in-print edition (1992) for years and was shocked to discover I much prefer their earlier translations. There are not huge changes here--it's often a subtle reordering of words or a minor change in word-choice, but still, they're noticeable changes that sometimes drsatically alter, in my opinion, the meanings of the poems as I...more
Michael
This comprehensive collection of the poetry of C. P. Cavafy, translated by Daniel Mendelsohn and published in 2009 was an unexpected bridge from the present (my present) to the past (Cavafy's and beyond to the time of ancient civilization). Mendelsohn masterfully translates, edits and curates this collection. The thorough introduction merits a second glance after finishing the collection. Poems are presented in blocks of published, unpublished and "repudiated." Chronological care is taken within...more
Armen
Here is why I think Cavafy is one fo the 20th century's great poets, here is his poem about Antony after he looses the battle of Actium and is forced to flee back to Alexandria, waiting for Augustus to come and kill him - and cavafy imagines the great City abandoning Antony to his fate:

The god forsakes Antony

When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive—don...more
Michael Vagnetti
Cavafy's writing walks through history, collegially, and amusingly engages its arcane, Classical characters: "So we're getting closer to arriving, Hermippus./The day after tomorrow, I daresay; so said the captain. At least we're sailing on our seas:" ("Homecoming from Greece [1914]") I had a strange misty sensation of being welcomed, too, in this time travel. Leaders, musicians, or poets are assessed, their life's details embellished with words looking through the time as if on anachronistic Ste...more
DoctorM
I discovered Cavafy via Lawrence Durrell's "Alexandria Quartet"... And found this translation at the old Atticus Books in New Haven. I've been entranced by Cavafy's poetry since I was eighteen... I've read his "In 200 BC" and "The God Abandons Antony" to classes, and read his love poems (a few pronouns suitably altered) to girls in my Past.

And how can one not read his "Exiles" and not sigh?

Cavafy was a Greek living in Alexandria at turn of the last century--- one of the last generations of Gree...more
Mounir
مجموعة دراسات نقدية وترجمة لمجموعة كبيرة من الأشعار المنشورة للشاعر اليوناني كفافي أو كفافيس الذي عاش أغلب حياته في الإسكندرية. وفي نهاية الكتاب هوامش بعضها مطول لشرح الغامض في أشعار كفافيس. أقرأ في نفس الوقت الأعمال الكاملة لكفافيس ترجمة رفعت سلام, وأجده شىء ظريف أن يقارن الواحد بين الترجمتين. لا أدري بالطبع أيهما أقرب للأصل, وإن كان نعيم عطية بوصفه متخصص في ترجمة الأدب والشعر اليوناني الحديث, أفترض أن يكون قد قام بالترجمة عن الأصل اليوناني

الدراسات وجدتها مفيدة جدا وتلقي أضواء كثيرة على حياة ك...more
Douglas
C. P. Cavafy is one of the most important poets of the twentieth century, and one of the two most (with Neruda) translated into English. There are over a dozen translations of Cavafy, but this is the first great one, and remains one of the best.

Cavafy wrote primarily three types of poems: historical, philosophical and sensual. He is a master of understatement and nuance, and has an ironic and quirky view of the world. Cavafy is most famous in English as being the author of "Ithaka", his poem ab...more
Elizabeth
God, if I could write like this, I would -- well, I wouldn't be me, but I would have an awesome amount of knowledge about Classical, Late Antiquity, and Modern Greece and Egypt. And be a far more generous person. This is the book that reminds me that Alexandria was a Hellenistic city for a damn long time, a book that overflows with compassion and empathy, a book which moves seamlessly between paganism and early Christianity. I wish there were more notes, but I can understand why Keeley, Sherrard...more
Cooper Renner
5 stars doesn't mean that every poem here is a gem, but enough of them are gems to rank Cavafy very high. And the translator's notes are very helpful, especially on the poems set in the Byzantine and Hellenistic empires (which are, in my opinion, the best poems, as a general rule). Cavafy is sly, understated, full of heart.
Zenu
Mi se întâmplă pentru a doua oară anul acesta să citesc un volum de poezie. Unele sunt foarte bune. Restul sunt superbe.

James Murphy
I own 2 other translations of Cavafy, those of Aliki Barnstone and Edmund Keeley along with Philip Sherrard. My original intent was to reread those simultaneously with this of Daniel Mendelsohn but in the end didn't feel that ambitious. I'd thought this translation and its accompanying notes would combine into a vaultingly good read and a comprehensive understanding of Cavafy's work, but by the time I completed the book I didn't feel that way. The brief comparisons I've made haven't led me to th...more
Cooper Renner
I've read Cavafy before, in the Keeley-Sherrard and/or Dalven versions, but was curious about this new edition, both for the editorial apparatus and the novelty of having Greek which I can't read alongside the English. I also wanted to see if my opinions about Cavafy would change much in reading again, in new versions. I find once again that, like most lyric poets, Cavafy wrote more unexceptional than exceptional poems, and that "content" took precedence over form too much of the time (as far as...more
Patrick
I have been reading Daniel Mendelsohn's translations of Cavafy: Collected Poems and Unfinished Poems. I have read Rae Dalven's translation of his collected poems, and while I enjoyed them, I continued to migrate my favorite modern Greek poet: Seferis. Mendelsohn's translations are revelatory. I have had several friends tell me that Cavafy's poems read in the original Greek are delicious and beautiful, but, alas, I don't understand Greek. Mendelsohn performs some magic here though.

First and forem...more
Leni King
Feb 16, 2013 Leni King rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Na, Francis
One of the world's best poets. Even better in Greek also... Includes phrases that have now entered popular culture, such as it is not the destination that counts but the journey... Which is from the poem Ithaca:

"As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon-don't be afraid of them:
you'll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spi...more
M.B.
I really enjoyed this. I've tried to read Cavafy before but the translations seemed stuffy - this new translation by the poet Aliki Barnstone is really immediate. Was especially struck by the historical dramatic monologues, which are pretty fascinating - especially those set at the juncture of classical paganism and Christianity, and concerning the emperor Julian (who tried to convert the empire back to paganism). If you're interested in classical culture, and like your Christianity as pagan as...more
Clare
Jun 19, 2009 Clare added it
Undecided. There is a snazzy new translation available (which I did not read) that might change my mind considerably...the collection I read gives his poems in chronological order, and they tend to get better as he gets older - perhaps because his lust/yearning/whatever for very pretty young men (they tend to be "twenty-three" or "twenty-four") becomes more painful, more serious, more interesting...a knowledge of Alexandria/the Classical world is helpful, too. I think some have accused C.P. Cava...more
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51724
Constantine P. Cavafy (also known as Konstantin or Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis, or Kavaphes; Greek Κωνσταντίνος Π. Καβάφης) was a major Greek poet who worked as a journalist and civil servant. He has been called a skeptic and a neo-pagan. In his poetry he examines critically some aspects of Christianity, patriotism, and homosexuality, though he was not always comfortable with his role as a nonconf...more
More about C.P. Cavafy...
The Complete Poems Selected Poems Ithaka K. P. Kavafis The Unfinished Poems

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“Επιθυμίες
Σαν σώματα ωραία νεκρών που δεν εγέρασαν
και τάκλεισαν, με δάκρυα, σε μαυσωλείο λαμπρό,
με ρόδα στο κεφάλι και στα πόδια γιασεμιά --
έτσ' η επιθυμίες μοιάζουν που επέρασαν
χωρίς να εκπληρωθούν· χωρίς ν' αξιωθεί καμιά
της ηδονής μια νύχτα, ή ένα πρωϊ της φεγγερό."

Desires
"Like beautiful bodies of the dead who had not grown old
and they shut them, with tears, in a brilliant mausoleum,
with roses at the head and jasmine at the feet --
this is what desires resemble that have passed
without fulfillment; without any of them having achieved
a night of sensual delight, or a morning of brightness.”
48 likes
“Ithaka

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.”
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