C. P. Cavafy

Looking at a half-grey opal
I remembered two fine grey eyes
I saw, it must be twenty years before. . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
For one month we loved each other.
Then he left, I think for Smyrne,
to work there, and we never met again.

The grey eyes – if he’s alive – they’ll have faded;
the fine face will have collapsed.

O memory, keep them as they were.
And, memory, whatever you can of that love of mine,
whatever you can, carry me back tonight.

[Written and published 1917]

Original Greek Poem

To the café’s entrance

C. P. Cavafy

Something they said near me directed
my attention to the café’s entrance.
And I saw the fine body which seemed
with his acute skill like Eros had formed it –
joyfully framing its shapely limbs;
raising its chiseled stature;
framing the face with devotion
and leaving with his hands’ caress
a feeling on the brow, the eyes, the lips.

[Published 1915]

Original Greek Poem

He’s the Man

C. P. Cavafy

An unknown – a stranger in Antioch – Edessan
writes much. And finally, look, the latest melody
is done. With that, eighty-three

poems in all. But such writing
wearied the poet, so much versifying,
and so much toil on Greek phrase,
and now everything is a burden to him. –

But one thought pulls him straight out
of despair – the sublime ‘He’s the Man’
that Lucian sometime heard in his sleep.

[Written 1898; Published 1909]

Original Greek Poem