Constantine P. Cavafy Poems

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Constantine P. Cavafy
Constantine P. Cavafy, also known as Konstantin or Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis, or Kavaphes (April 29, 1863 April 29, 1933) was a major Greek poet who worked as a journalist and civil servant. He has been called a skeptic and a neo-pagan. In his poetry he examines critically some aspects of Christianity, patriotism, and homosexuality, though he was not always comfortable with his role as a nonconformist. He published 154 poems; dozens more remained incomplete or in sketch form. His most important poetry was written after his fortieth birthday. Cavafy was born in 1863 in Alexandria, Egypt, to Greek parents, and was baptized into the Greek Orthodox Church. His father was a prosperous importer-exporter who had lived in England in earlier years and acquired British nationality. After his father died in 1870, Cavafy and his family settled, for a while, in Liverpool, UK. Cavafy moved back to Alexandria in 1877, after the family faced financial problems in the crash of 1876. Disturbances in Alexandria in 1882 caused the family again temporarily to move, this time to Constantinople. When a revolt against Anglo-French control of Egypt broke out in Alexandria precipating the 1882 Anglo-Egyptian War, Alexandria was bombarded by an English fleet and the family apartment at Ramli was burned. In 1885, Cavafy returned to Alexandria, where he lived for the rest of his life. He worked first as a journalist, then for the British-run Egyptian Ministry of Public Works for thirty years. (Egypt was a British protectorate until 1926.) From 1891 to 1904 he published his poetry in broadsheet form, only for his close friends, receiving whatever acclaim mainly within the Greek community in Alexandria. He was introduced to mainland-Greek literary circles through a favourable review by Xenopoulos in 1903, but got little recognition, his style being very different from then-mainstream Greek poetry. Only 20 years later, after the Greek defeat in the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922), a new generation of almost nihilist poets (e.g. Karyotakis) would find inspiration in Cavafy's work. He died of cancer of the larynx on April 29, 1933, his 70th birthday. A biographical note written by Cavafy reads as follows: "I am from Constantinople by descent, but I was born in Alexandria at a house on Seriph Street; I left very young, and spent much of my childhood in England. Subsequently I visited this country as an adult, but for a short period of time. I have also lived in France. During my adolescence I lived over two years in Constantinople. It has been many years since I last visited Greece. My last employment was as a clerk at a government office under the Ministry of Public Works of Egypt. I know English, French, and a little Italian." It is generally accepted that Cavafy was homosexual and gay themes appear in a number of his poems. Since his death, Cavafy's reputation has grown. He is now considered one of the finest modern Greek poets. His poetry is now taught at schools in mainland Greece.

the photograph
In this obscene photograph secretly sold
the policeman mustn't see) around the corner,
in ... [read poem]
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