C. P. Cavafy, demotic poet
June 9, 2009 9:37 AM   Subscribe

The Cavafy Archive has translations of all of C. P. Cavafy's poems (go here for the Greek) except for the 30 unfinished poems, which have just recently been translated into English for the first time by Daniel Mendelsohn. His translations are reviewed in a lengthy essay by Peter Green in the most recent New Republic. Mendelsohn was interviewed on NPR's All Things Considered earlier this week. Late last year Mendelsohn wrote an essay about Cavafy in The New York Review of Books. The Cavafy Archive also has translations of a few prose pieces by Cavafy as well as manuscripts, pictures, translated letters & short texts and a catalog of Cavafy's library.
posted by Kattullus (9 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

Thank you for this post on one of my favorite poets. Not sure how excited I am about Daniel Mendelsohn translating him, but I have to give it a chance.
posted by blucevalo at 9:41 AM on June 9, 2009

Oh, I really love Cafavy - thank you for posting this! During a difficult time of transition in my life, The God Abandons Antony made me feel better than almost anything else.
posted by harperpitt at 9:55 AM on June 9, 2009

I'm still waiting for my barbarians. I was promised barbarians!
posted by steef at 10:17 AM on June 9, 2009

When I was a younger I had a total crush on Cavafy.

Oh who am I kidding, i still do. How can you resist?
posted by The Whelk at 11:55 AM on June 9, 2009

Whoa. What's that hair doing? And is one eyebrow trying to sneak away? He's looks as if he thinks us super silly.
posted by pracowity at 12:39 PM on June 9, 2009

I, too, love The God Abandons Antony. I also love The City.

Thanks for posting this!
posted by winna at 5:42 PM on June 9, 2009

Great post! The Cavafy poem that keeps me going is Ithaka:

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.
posted by tickingclock at 6:07 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

An excellent post, and I appreciate the link to the Peter Green essay (God knows I'd never have found it in the New Republic, a vile rag otherwise). I don't much like Mendelsohn's translations, but good for him for keeping Cavafy's name and work out there (and for providing what sound like excellent notes). I'm glad Green emphasizes Cavafy's formal side—it drives me up the wall when people talk as if he were a free verse poet. I just wish an equally fine poet would turn his or her hand to translating him.
posted by languagehat at 8:45 AM on June 10, 2009

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