This month I’m going to do something a little different and showcase a poet for the month in honor of April being National Poetry Month. If it goes well, I think I’ll showcase another poet of the month. I have never heard of this poet before and after viewing some of his poems, I like his work. Without further delay this month’s poet C. P. Cavafy.
“I never loved another person the way I loved myself”. – Mae West
C.P. Cavafy is widely considered the most distinguished Greek poet of the twentieth century. He was born in 1863 in Alexandria, Egypt, where his Greek parents had settled in the mid-1850s. During his lifetime Cavafy was an obscure poet, living in relative seclusion and publishing little of his work. A short collection of his poetry was privately printed in the early 1900s and reprinted with new verse a few years later, but that was the extent of his published poetry. Instead, Cavafy chose to circulate his verse among friends. This lack of concern for publication was due, perhaps, to the highly personal nature of many poems. Cavafy, who was gay, wrote many sexually explicit poems.
Ultimately, Cavafy’s erotic poems and historical verse are products of a singular vision, one which explores, in various ways, the gratifications, and ramifications, of the pursuit of pleasure. Eroticism, history, and death are all part of what George Seferis, writing in On the Greek Style, calls “Cavafy’s panorama,” and he observes, “All these things together make up the experience of his sensibility—uniform, contemporary, simultaneous, expressed by his historical self.”
Here’s one of my fav’s below. Again, please enjoy.
When They Come Alive
Try to keep them, poet,
those erotic visions of yours,
however few of them there are that can be stilled.
Put them, half-hidden, in your lines.
Try to hold them, poet,
when they come alive in your mind
at night or in the brightness of noon.