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Collected Poems

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4.38 of 5 stars 4.38  ·  rating details  ·  1,757 ratings  ·  100 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 1975)
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William1
This is worthwhile. It seems so right that a prominent classicist should have translated Cavafy, whose poems range from paeans to same-sex pleasure--rivaling those of Catullus--to exquisitely rich poems set in a range of ancient Greek and Roman historical contexts. Now, ninety percent of this would be lost on me were it not for Daniel Mendelsohn's highly detailed notes. So, if you have an interest in Greek and Roman history, know some of the ancient writers like Aeschylus, Thucydides, Xenophon, ...more
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...
Lynne King
Come back and take hold of me,
beloved feeling come back and take hold of me,
when the memory of the body reawakens,
and old longing once more passes through the blood;
when the lips and skin remember,
and the hands feel like they’re touching once again.

Come back often and take hold of me at night,
when the lips and skin remember ….

The translator, Daniel Mendelsohn, has done a sterling job of bringing the works of this mesmerizing poet to life. The introduction is excellent as are the
...more
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
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
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
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
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
Leslie
Cavafy's poetry often strikes a chord with me. I like the form of his poetry as well as the content & felt that Mendelsohn did a good translation. Of course, I am unable to read the original Greek so I can't really judge!

I did skip the prose poems at the end of the volume but spent some time looking at the extensive notes on the historical & mythological persons mentioned or implied in the poems. Having been a fan of all things Greek from an early age (my 11th birthday to be exact!), I w
...more
Bryn Hammond
Cavafy described himself as a ‘poet-historian’; he primarily wrote poems on history – a historical poet, which is unusual I think?

His settings range through the wide Greek world, ancient to medieval – from Troy to Byzantium – with a focus on his own city of Alexandria. The people he gives voices to can be famous names like Antony and Julian or obscure petty kinglets from Syria. Among his common themes are the uneasiness of satellites of Rome in the eastern Mediterranean, and the encroachments o
...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
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
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
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
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
Salah Ibrahem
الشبقية والميول الجنسية المثالية
الحضارة الهلينستية ومجدها الغابر
بيزنطة؛ الشرقية، والغربية والمسيحية
الوثنية وجوليان
بإختصار؛ كل ما سبق هو محور، ومنبع كتابات قسطنطنيوس بترو كفافيس.


قراءة الشعر مترجماً يفقدك نصف مذاقه، يفقدك تذوق جمال إختيار الألفاظ للتعبير عن معني ما، يفقدك تذوق جرس الألفاظ وظلالها، يفقدك تذوق إختيار البحر الشعري للتعبير عن تجربة ما تناسب حركات وسكنات هذا البحر-الموسيقي بشكل عام سواء كانت موسيقي داخلية أو خارجية، يفقدك الكثير والكثير. ولكن يتبقي لنا من الشعر المترجم؛ التعرف علي تجا
...more
Qi
Cavafy — “Eyes Awry” — Poet of a different perspective of Greco-Roman myths and history

In Marjorie Garber’s brilliant “Shakespeare After All” (2008), I was alerted to the idea of “eyed awry”. As Garber said, in her analysis of Richard II :

There was in Elizabethan art a kind of picture known as “perspective,” or anamorphosis, a distorted projection so designed that when viewed from a particular point, or reflected in a mirror, it appears regular and correctly proportioned.In Richard II Bushy
...more
Debbie Robson
To me these poems seem so modern. They are free verse for the most part and with a tone that would not be out of place in the 21st Century. It is obvious Cavafy is very knowledgeable about Ancient History, although fascinating I frequently became confused by the political intrigues of dead statesmen.
What will stay with me are the later poems such as Morning Sea and One Night.
Jane
I read this piecemeal, skipping around. I know some of the historical and classical references but not all; I'm glad there are such extensive notes. Some poems were gorgeous but others made no sense. I liked best and will always remember "Candles" and "Ithaka."
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
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
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
Jenna
These are poems that slow down time, poems that hold a lighted match up to microscopic instants in history until, startled, they unfurl their beautiful wings. The writing style is deceptively simple, the subject matter universal and timeless, the voice authoritative and likable as Sappho's. These are poems that crackle with illicit sexuality and yet, simultaneously, steamroll you with their moral strength and stoicism. Amazing how a single individual, Cavafy, could encompass in a slim book of sh ...more
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  • The Axion Esti (The Pitt Poetry Series)
  • Collected Poems
  • The Selected Poems
  • Μαραμπού
  • The Moonlight Sonata
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  • The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems
  • The Selected Poetry
  • Collected Poems
  • Poems New and Collected
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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 Ithaka Selected Poems K. P. Kavafis Τα ποιήματα Β': 1919-1933

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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.”
66 likes
“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.”
62 likes
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