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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ancient light, 26 May 2014
By 
GlynLuke (York UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: C. P. Cavafy Collected Poems (Paperback)
These 174 mostly short poems from the Greek-Alexandrian poet Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933) glimmer with a slightly tarnished Greek light, many of them responding to the ancient world as if taking place now, others speaking in the voice of an urbane, fastidious man of a melancholy, elegiac bent, which I for one find irresistible.
Cavafy is unlike any other 'modern' poet. A native of Alexandria, born to Greek parents, he was a civil servant for much of his life, and doesn`t appear to have been too precious about his poems, giving them away to friends in privately printed pamphlets, as the Biographical Note by translators Keeley and Sherrard tells us.
I find that the more I read of these deceptively straightforward poems, the more I want to read. It really is like stepping back into another age, a long-ago century, even in the homo-erotic poems describing the poet`s everyday life in Alexandria,
which could almost be by an ancient Greek poet, such is their lucid universality. We know he is talking about young men, but the discreet eroticism speaks to all persuasions.
One of my favourite of Cavafy`s poems - and, I believe, one of the world`s great poems - is the marvellous Ithaka:

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.

And later in the poem:

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you`re destined for.
But don`t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you`re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you`ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

People have lived their lives by worse advice. It`s an astonishing, life-altering poem, and seems to be a rare instance of Cavafy talking to us all, to the ages - as well as, of course, to himself.
There are now several editions of Cavafy`s poetry, in different translations. This is probably the one that first allowed most people to discover the precise clarity of this gently profound poet, who speaks in such a modest but confident voice, and who is now rightly thought of as one of the world`s finest twentieth century poets.
In truth, he seems to live in no particular century and in all centuries.
An ancient light is forever setting in these brief, spare, resonant poems.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wide ranging anthology, 18 Sept. 2013
This review is from: C. P. Cavafy Collected Poems (Paperback)
It was very Interesting to read the poems that inspired David Hockney's early series of prints. The Greek world was highlighted in these poems from ancient times.
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C. P. Cavafy Collected Poems
C. P. Cavafy Collected Poems by Constantine P Cavafy (Paperback - 30 Aug. 1990)
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