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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A young poet in his twenty-fourth year



A young poet in his twenty-fourth year
C.P. Cavafy


Brain, work now as well as you can.
A one-sided passion is destroying him.
He’s in a maddening situation.
Every day he kisses the face he worships,
his hands are on those exquisite limbs.
He’s never loved before with this degree of passion.
But the beautiful fulfillment of love
is lacking, that fulfillment is lacking
which both of them must want with the same intensity.

(They aren’t equally given to the abnormal form of sensual pleasure;
only he is completely possessed by it.)

And so he’s wearing himself out, all on edge.
Then—to make things worse—he’s out of work.
He manages somehow to borrow
a little here and there (sometimes
almost begging for it) and he just gets by.
He kisses those adored lips, excites himself
on that exquisite body—though he now feels
it only acquiesces. And then
he drinks and smokes, drinks and smokes;
and he drags himself to the cafés all day long,
drags the weariness consuming his beauty.
Brain, work now as well as you can. 
Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

[From The Cavafy Archive.  More or less ignored by the Greek literary establishment during his lifetime, Cavafy is now acknowledged to be one of the greatest modern Greek poets]

From AOM

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