Of the Jews (50 A.D.)

C. P. Cavafy

Painter and poet, runner and discus-thrower,
beautiful like Endymion: Ianthis, son of Antony.
From a family close to the Synagogue.

‘My most honourable days are those
when I let go of the search for beauty,
when I absent myself from the fine and severe hellenism,
with its sovereign devotion
to perfectly made and sublunary white limbs.
And I become what I would like
always to remain: of the Jews, the holy Jews, a son.’

Rather ardent, his proclamation. ‘Always
to remain of the Jews, the holy Jews – ’

But he didn’t remain one at all.
Hedonism and the Art of Alexandria
kept him as their faithful child.

[Written 1912; Published 1919]

Original Greek Poem