C. P. KAVAFY: Days of 1909, ’10 and ’11

Portrait of Cavafy by Nikos Engonopoulos, 1948

(Translated from the Greek of C. P. Kavafy)

The son of a dirt-poor and put-upon sailor
from some island in the Aegean,
he worked for a blacksmith, his clothes in tatters,
his work-boots torn open,
his hands engrained with rust and oil.

In the evening, when the smithy closed,
if there was some little thing he longed for,
an expensive tie,
a tie for Sundays,
or if he saw and fancied
a lovely blue shirt in some shop window,
he’d rent his body out for a few drachmas.

I wonder whether ancient Alexandria
in all its glory ever saw a boy more exquisite,
more perfect – lost though it was.
I mean that we have no statue of him, no painting.
Stuck there in that ghastly blacksmith’s workshop,
overworked and abused, and given to cheap pleasures,
his beauty soon wasted away.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s