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C. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  2,804 Ratings  ·  186 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 acclaim ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 28th 1992 by Princeton University Press (first published 1935)
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Jun 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I agree with Robert Frost. Poetry is what gets lost in translation. Yet, there are a few exceptions. Maybe these rare cases where poetry is akin to storytelling. Borges... Szymborska... Kavafis... Go find Kavafis. Even in translation... I love his melancholic humour, his mediterranean sense of mono no aware, the way he celebrates human passions, his understanding of pleasure as a form of struggle, his ability to imagine the past, finding significance in the most insignificant moments of history ...more
Nov 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry-شعر
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
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
Κάθομαι και ρεμβάζω. Επιθυμίες κ’ αισθήσεις
εκόμισα εις την Τέχνην— κάτι μισοειδωμένα,
πρόσωπα ή γραμμές· ερώτων ατελών
κάτι αβέβαιες μνήμες. Aς αφεθώ σ’ αυτήν.
Ξέρει να σχηματίσει Μορφήν της Καλλονής·
σχεδόν ανεπαισθήτως τον βίον συμπληρούσα,
συνδυάζουσα εντυπώσεις, συνδυάζουσα τες μέρες.
-Κ. Π. Καβάφης, Εκόμισα εις την Τέχνη

Διασπορικό υποκείμενο και ποιητής παγκόσμιας λογοτεχνίας, δεν περιορίζεται στην ελληνική παράδοση, ο Καβάφης πολεμήθηκε εξίσου από την παλαμική/σεφερική γενιά αλλά και από τον σο
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Η χρονιά που διανύουμε είναι αφιερωμένη στο μεγάλο ποιητής της Αλεξάνδρειας που κατάφερε να διακριθεί με το λιτό, απέριττο και ειρωνικό ποιητικό του λόγο αγγίζοντας διαχρονικά θέματα όπως η ήττα, ο θάνατος και τα γηρατειά.
Marwa Eletriby
Nov 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: شعر
وإن لم تستطع تشكيل حياتك كما تريد
فحاول - على الأقل - بقدر ما تستطيع ألا تبتذلها
تحية كبيرة لترجمة رفعت سلام
Bir şiir kitabını "okudum bitirdim" olarak nitelendirmek ne kadar doğru bilmiyorum. Hele hele bir şairin tüm şiirlerinin toplandığı bir kitabı bitirmek mümkün değil bence. Sık sık değil belki; ama zaman zaman geri dönüyor insan kitaba, yeniden okuyor, o satırlar farklı duygulara yol açıyor her seferinde.

Kavafis son zamanlarda o kadar çok çıktı ki karşıma, bu bir mesaj olmalı diye düşündüm. :) Önce bir dersimde Coetzee'nin Barbarları Beklerken kitabı tartışıldı ve kitabı sunan arkadaşım sunumuna
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, unfinished
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
Nov 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lyric lovers
Recommended to Wayne by: Dina, my Greek student
You never ever quite finish with a book of poetry. It is always waiting to be dipped into...always.
Like old friends,
a reunion is always on the cards and always a pleasure.
Which is why I have only recorded the Starting Date,
in Athens, almost 40 years ago now,
because as far as I can tell,
I will never be finished with this book,
with these poems,
with Cavafy.

You go to poets or write poetry to get questions answered or to see the questions perfectly put.
Or for some clarification.
Not surprisingl
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
Jim Coughenour
Jul 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetryforliving
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
Mar 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: c-p-cavafy, poetry
The memories and the feelings of our own days weep.
And, Memory, bring back to me tonight all that you can,
of this love of mine, all that you can.
there are pains that will not stay quiet in the heart.
They thirst to get out and give vent to grieving.
But the windows are not found, or I cannot
find them. And perhaps it is better I do not find them.
Perhaps the light will be a new tyranny.
Who knows what new things it will show?


Jun 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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
Chris Coffman
Aug 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Bryn Hammond
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-history
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
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, greek
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
James Murphy
Sep 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read other translations of Cavafy, most recently the newer one by Daniel Mendelsohn and that of Aliki Barnstone, published in 2006. Though this, by Rae Dalven, is earlier than either of those, I liked it very much if not more. This seems especially supple and relaxed. I think it's totally comfortable with itself, not at all self-conscious or pointing to the fact that this is a translation of an acclaimed and extraordinary body of work. Another pleasure here is that for the first time in rea ...more
Lou Last
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: golden, poems
Be kind to yourself, read Cavafy. So much pales in comparison. I'm not equal to one who's able to review his poems, so will leave this link to an archive
Aug 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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
May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Peter Crofts
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 subtlety of rhythm and rhyme with this poet. Cavafy is not unmusical, it's more that his musicality is minimal and austere. Second, the notes to
Jim Coughenour
May 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reconditepoetry
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
Apr 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, poetry

Me alegra que se vaya
el invierno con sus nieblas, temporales y frío.
La primavera entra en mí, oh alegría verdadera.
La risa es como un rayo de sol, todo de oro puro,
no hay otro jardín como el amor,
el calor de la canción derrite todas las nieves.

Qué agradable cuando la primavera
siembra de flores las verdes campiñas.
Pero si tienes el corazón herido es como si llega el invierno.
La tristeza pueda empañar el más brillante de los soles;
si estás apenado, Mayo parecerá Diciembre,
Stelios Adam
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, favorites
Being a master of writing, investigating death, freedom, society, allegory and love, C.P. Cavafis has managed to make a unique illustration of both his complicated personality and eventful life. Cavafis's words are only the necessary ones to make you easily aware of both clear thinking as well as the whole irony in it. He seems to have continuously wondered about the emotional impact of philosophical thought in our daily routines and he is undoubtedly my favorite poet!!!
Debbie Robson
Feb 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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  • Collected Poems
  • The Axion Esti
  • The Collected Poems, 1956-1998
  • The Selected Poems
  • Without End: New and Selected Poems
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  • The Moonlight Sonata
  • Poems of Paul Celan
  • Atlantis
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  • The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems
  • Poems New and Collected
  • Selected Poems: 1931-2004
  • A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe: Selected Poems
  • Poems
  • The Man With Night Sweats
  • The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai
Constantine P. Cavafy (also known as Konstantin or Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis, or Kavaphes; Greek Κ.Π. Καβάφης) was a major Greek poet who worked as a journalist and civil servant. His consciously individual style earned him a place among the most important figures not only in Greek poetry, but in Western poetry as well. He has been called a skeptic and a neo-pagan. In his poetry he examines crit ...more
More about Constantinos P. Cavafis

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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.”
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."

"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.”
More quotes…