Constantine P. Cavafy
Constantine P. Cavafy, also known as Konstantin or Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis, or Kavaphes was a renowned Greek poet who lived in Alexandria and worked as a journalist and civil servant. He published 154 poems; dozens more remained incomplete or in sketch form. His most important poetry was written after his fortieth birthday.
Cavafy was born in 1863 in Alexandria, Egypt, to Greek parents, and was baptized into the Greek Orthodox Church. His father was a prosperous importer-exporter who had lived in England in earlier years and acquired British nationality. After his father died in 1870, Cavafy and his family settled for a while in Liverpool in England. In ... more »
Click here to add this poet to your My Favorite Poets.
Constantine P. Cavafy Poems
When you set out for Ithaka ask that your way be long, full of adventure, full of instruction. The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
An Old Man
At the noisy end of the cafe, head bent over the table, an old man sits alone, a newspaper in front of him.
The days of the future stand in front of us Like a line of candles all alight---- Golden and warm and lively little candles. The days that are past are left behind,
As much as you can
And if you can't shape your life the way you want, at least try as much as you can not to degrade it by too much contact with the world,
Like beautiful bodies of the dead, who had not grown old and they shut them with tears, in a magnificent mausoleum, with roses at the head and jasmine at the feet -- that is how desires look that have passed
Body, remember not only how much you were loved not only the beds you lay on. but also those desires glowing openly in eyes that looked at you,
On an ebony bed decorated with coral eagles, sound asleep lies Nero --- unconscious, quiet, and blissful; thriving in the vigor of flesh,
I do not question whether I am happy or unhappy. Yet there is one thing that I keep gladly in mind -- that in the great addition (their addition that I abhor) that has so many numbers, I am not one
For some people the day comes when they have to declare the great Yes or the great No. It's clear at once who has the Yes ready within him; and saying it,
But Wise Men Perceive Approaching Things
Because gods perceive future things, men what is happening now, but wise men perceive approaching things. Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, VIII, 7.
Waiting for the Barbarians
What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum? The barbarians are due here today. Why isn't anything happening in the senate?
Said Myrtias (a Syrian student in Alexandria; in the reign of Augustus Constans and Augustus Constantius; in part a pagan, and in part a christian);
The poet Phernazis is composing the important part of his epic poem. How Darius, son of Hystaspes, assumed the kingdom of the Persians. (From him
You said, "I will go to another land, I will go to another sea. Another city will be found, a better one than this. Every effort of mine is a condemnation of fate; and my heart is -- like a corpse -- buried.
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821)
When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.
Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy -
ports seen ...