Without her you would not have ventured on the way, but she has no more to give you.
And if you find Ithaca a poor place, she has not mocked you. You have become so wise, so full of experience, that you should understand by now what these Ithacas mean. There is another mood in which he stands apart from his subject-matter, and with the detachement of an artist hammers it into shape.
He even looks back upon a different Greece. Athens and Sparta, so drubbed into us at school, are to him two quarrelsome little slave states, ephemeral beside the Hellenistic kingdoms that followed them, just as these are ephemeral beside the secular empire of Constantinople. Two of these poems shall be quoted in full, to illustrate his method. In the first he adopts the precise, almost mincing style of a chronicle to build up his effect.
The Original One Hundred and Fifty-Four Poems
An Alexandrian crowd collected to see the sons of Cleopatra, Caesarion and his little brothers Alexander and Ptolemy, who for the first time were brought to the Gymnasium, there to be crowned as kings amidst a splendid display of troops. Alexander they named king of Armenia, of Media, and of the Parthians.
Ptolemy they named king of Cilicia, of Syria, and Phoenicia. Caesarion stood a little in front, clad in silk the colour of roses, with a bunch of hyacinths at his breast.
His belt was a double line of sapphires and amethysts, his sandals were bound with white ribbons embroidered with rosy pearls. Him they acclaimed more than the small ones. It is the work of an artist who is not interested in facile beauty. In the second example, though its subject-matter is pathetic, Cavafy stands equally aloof. The poem is broken into half-lines; he is spelling out an epitaph on a young man who died in the month of Athyr, the ancient Egyptian November, and he would convey the obscurity, the poignancy, that sometimes arise together out of the past, entwined into a single ghost: It is hard to read.
In the damaged part I see the words. Join Our Mailing List: Subscribe to receive information about forthcoming books, seasonal catalogs, and more, in newsletters tailored to your interests. Recent News Allan Lichtman, author of The Embattled Vote in America , talked to Vox about the history of disenfranchisement in the United States and the dire consequences to American democracy of ongoing voter suppression.
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In philosophy he was a Hepburn, a Brando, a Dean, a Bacall, stars into whose souls he gave us entryways. And on ours, too!
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Now what's going to happen to us without barbarians? Those people were a kind of solution. But, a ruined man, it's not my fault.
The Canon — C. P. Cavafy | Harvard University Press
I'm only trying, poor devil, to make ends meet. The almighty gods ought to have taken the trouble to create a fourth, a decent man.
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I would gladly have gone along with him.