When was the last time you had time for a poem?

Take a minute. now. You can read it three times in that minute. slowly. marinade in it later…

by Constantine P. Cavafy


I sit in a mood of reverie.

I’ve brought to Art desires and sensations:

things half-glimpsed,

faces or lines, certain indistinct memories

of unfulfilled love affairs. Let me submit to Art:

Art knows how to shape forms of Beauty,

almost imperceptibly completing life,

blending impressions, blending day with day.

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard
C. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems


This poem, along with Ithaka, are of my favorite poems, and I relate to them greatly. I had to wait for a doctor’s appointment for a while, and I was lucky to drop this book in my bag. I didn’t mind the long wait then. How else could I have some time for poetry otherwise???

I read his poems in the language they were written in – Greek. But I have to admit, that for some of them, reading the translation, actually helps to understand the meaning further.

How do you relate to this poem?

Now if you speak Greek, you will enjoy this version:

Κάθομαι και ρεμβάζω.   Επιθυμίες κ’ αισθήσεις
εκόμισα εις την Τέχνην—   κάτι μισοειδωμένα,
πρόσωπα ή γραμμές·   ερώτων ατελών
κάτι αβέβαιες μνήμες.   Aς αφεθώ σ’ αυτήν.
Ξέρει να σχηματίσει   Μορφήν της Καλλονής·
σχεδόν ανεπαισθήτως   τον βίον συμπληρούσα,
συνδυάζουσα εντυπώσεις,   συνδυάζουσα τες μέρες.

(Από τα Ποιήματα 1897-1933, Ίκαρος 1984)


Now “submit” to art and..