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Complete Poems of Cavafy [Paperback]

C. P. Cavafy , Constantine Cavafy , Rae Dalven
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: £10.57 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

Complete Poems of Cavafy + The Collected Poems: with parallel Greek text (Oxford World's Classics) + George Seferis: Complete Poems
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Product details

  • Paperback: 311 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Publishers Ltd Trade Division; Expanded Ed edition (Oct 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156198207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156198202
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.6 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 409,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book by CP Cavafy

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grecian Songs 26 Sep 2011
In the panorama of twentieth century poetry, Cavafis' work - presented here with an introduction by Auden (cf. also this poet's great work in Collected Auden, or Selected Poems, et al.) - occupies a special place. Dark, lonely to the limit of self-segregation, but at the same time attracted by the Mediterranean vitality and openness, the neo-Hellenic poet refuses en block every aspect of his time, diving instead, with constant wonder, into the suggestions of mythological legends and ancient history.

The result of this literary 'operation' is the continuous, desperate search for a mysterious and elusive Beauty, an evocation of hidden moments and loves sung now with violently sensual accents, now with heartfelt and nostalgic tones, mixed with a tragic vision of history as eternal struggle between men and destiny.

A truly beautiful and melancholy book.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A note on the translation 26 Jun 2004
By A passing reviewer - Published on Amazon.com
This review is not about the work of Cavafy itself, which I love, but a comment on the translation. Many critics have complained that a great deal is lost in a translation of Cavafy, particularly some of the linguistic and stylistic craftsmanship, and that is true of any translation of a poet. However, I believe the tone or the mood of poems, so important in a poet like Cavafy, are underemphasized, and if a translation is capable of conveying them with profundity, it is commendable; and in this respect the Rae Dalven translation is far superior to the Keeley/Sherrard and the Theoharis translations I have read, and the only one worth returning to - it remains evocative where the others seem to miss the pitch, sounding flat or overdone.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars essential 6 Aug 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It comes down to a matter of preference, but Cavafy's spare, elemental poetry is best translated for me by Rae Dalven, despite the greater number of titles available in an Edmund Keeley translation. This book is a worthy travel companion, with just about every extant Cavafy poem. Savour something special.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rediscovering Timeless Qualities 27 Jan 2002
By Terrell Fritz - Published on Amazon.com
There are those days when nothing new appeals to you, and it's good then to turn to your something that is not new. I did recently -- Cavafy.

To read the verse of C.P. Cavafy is to rediscover the timeless quality of passion, desire, pain, and life itself. He looks at the familiar things in life, yet gives them new perspective. There is little imagery in the work -- it would be unnecessary adornment. They eye and voice of Cavafy are all that is necessary. He saw and said, and did so simply. You need not ponder for hours the nuances of the work. That time can instead be well spent contemplating how and why things feel the way they do.

Cavafy questions civilization. In "Expecting the Barbarians," he describes with characteristic simplicity the essential sense of human relief that is found in giving up specifically in giving up the trappings and restrictions placed on the inhabitants of any society. Cavafy yearns for freedom, and when at last that freedom is denied, he ponders going on without that 'kind of solution. "

Cavafy never questions love or lust. "He Asked About the Quality" explores chance encounter and desire that must be hidden even when that desire is mutual:

". . . their only aim, the touching of their hands over the handkerchiefs; the coming close of their faces, by chance their lips; a momentary contact of the limbs."

The collection. the entirety of Cavafy's work, is a celebration of both antiquity and the present. Greece, Rome, Alexandria of the early nineteen hundreds, early Christianity itself -- these are Cavafy's settings. In spanning two thousand years of Western culture he discovers and reveals an immediacy, an appreciation of beauty -- the beauty of man himself, both physical and contemplative. Cavafy finds the joie de vivre even when it hurts. Then, in "The Horses of Achilles," he goes further and laments. Patroclus is slain and lifeless on the battleground. The immortal horses, gifts of the gods, begin to cry. Zeus tries to console them:

" --- Yet the two noble animals went on shedding their tears for the never ending calamity of death."

Cavafy: a look into something old, very old at times, yet always very new.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To the Most Audacious Amorous Desires 15 Mar 2006
By Adam Woods - Published on Amazon.com
Among the poets of the twentieth century, there is maybe one who can confidently say, "I am better than Cavafy." Yet, on a top five list of the twentieth century's greatest poets, Cavafy is far less likely to appear than, say, Dylan Thomas, Allen Ginsberg, Elizabeth Bishop, Philip Larkin, or W. H. Auden, yet Cavafy's work can stand against any of these.

Poets tend to squabble with tired questions, faith vs. reason, contemplation vs. experience, knowledge vs. serenity, life vs. language, etc. Cavafy, the Alexandrian Greek, does not squabble. Whether Cavafy's poems are about politics, art, or love (and those on the latter are the finest), it is as if his principal questions are answered before he writes the poem. Cavafy would never write a poem depicting the conflict between seamy, audacious amours and upright society. Instead, he goes ahead and writes about seamy, audacious amours, and at the end reminds us that upright society doesn't understand, that it makes "stupid comparisons."

And all of this Cavafy does with a fleeting tone (a la John Keats) that appears to be chiseled into marble (a la Ovid), at once the slightest and weightiest thing you've ever read.

Positively a must read and must own for any self-respecting poetry enthusiast.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Torment of Presence 4 Feb 2004
By Marc Ruby™ - Published on Amazon.com
I first encountered Cavafy as the writer ofa grim little poem called 'The City' - "You will find no new lands, you will find no other seas. The city will follow you." This bleak essay is the incarnation of the hopelessness of noir writing, and so my formative opinion of Cavafy perceived him as something much difference from what he is. Even though the bleak and an atmosphere of despair frequently haunt his efforts.
It was only in later study, after realizing that my 'secret' poet was actually one of the foremost of modern Greek poets. One who, despite the difficulties in the translation of his poems has had an influence well beyond the barriers of language. Cavafy habitually used to forms of Greek, demotic and purist, to carry out his devices. He writes plainly, with little or no metaphor or simile, but what makes his poems poetry is largely untranslatable. Yet, as one reads through his work in English translation, there are countless moments when something grabs your attention.
W. H. Auden, who wrote the introduction, attributes this to Cafavy's uniqueness, which somehow differentiates him from everyone else at the same time as it creates a connection. I find that reading Cavafy in translation is a bit like having a conversation with someone who has a very interesting way of expressing himself. His subjects are most often his own sensuality and the nature of the human state as a part of the old world of Greek history. But whether he is working within the parameters of his own homosexuality, or pondering the state of Demetrius Soter, Cafavy rarely fails to his home.
If you are looking to expand poetic horizons from an unexpected perspective, or smply enjoy verse that brings you up short and makes you think, there is much here for your reading. You will find Cavafy work easily accessible a valuable addition to the contemplatives library.
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