Monday, May 11, 2009

C.P. Cavafy (1863-1933)

I've been nursing myself through a miserable head cold by drinking hot lemonade and reading Cavafy's poems in the new translation by Daniel Mendelsohn.

No one equals Cavafy or Sappho for erotic poetry.  By his forties, Cavafy was already looking back at his nights of love:

One Night

The room was threadbare and tawdry,
hidden above that suspect restaurant.
From the window you could see the alley,
which was filthy and narrow.  From below
came the voices of some laborers
who were playing cards and having a carouse.

And there, in that common, vulgar bed
I had the body of love, I had the lips,
sensuous and rose-colored, of drunkenness--
the rose of such drunkenness, that evern now
as I write, after so many years Have passsed!,
in my solitary house, I am drunk again.