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C. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems (Lockert Library of Poetry in Translation) Paperback – September 28, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"At least as far as Cavafy's 'canon' of 154 sanctioned poems is concerned, it seems likely that the long-established version by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard . . . will continue, deservedly, to hold the field."--Peter Green, New Republic

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Greek --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Lockert Library of Poetry in Translation
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Bilingual edition with a New preface by Robert Pinsky edition (September 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 069114124X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691141244
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,407,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Constantinos Neophytou on November 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
I own a copy of the original collection of Cavafy's poems (in Greek) and I find that this translation has measured up to the task of translating the forceful and sensual poetry as closely as possible. And for anyone who cannot read Greek, this book will bring you as close as possible to the intense emotional response of reading the original. A must have for any poetry lover.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Miles D. Moore VINE VOICE on April 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
As with any poems translated from a language I have never learned, I am left wondering just how close Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard have come to the original style and substance of C.P. Cavafy, the great Alexandrian Greek poet of the early 20th century. (Keeley and Sherrard are scrupulous in their end notes, noting untranslatable words and the original rhyme schemes of poems translated into free verse.) Even in translation, these poems are exquisite, haunting both my dreams and my waking thoughts. Cavafy essentially had only a few subjects, but they were great ones--the lost glory of antiquity, the inevitable decline of the mighty, the death of love and beauty, the folly of human striving, the crucial importance of memory and history. In language of deceptive simplicity, he limned the ephemeral nature of beautiful things and the empty spaces their loss leaves in the soul. (Cavafy, openly gay at a time when homosexuality was truly the love that dare not speak its name, wrote only of lost, passing or unrequited love.) Most of these poems are very short, but they insinuate themselves inextricably into memory, such as "The Mirror in the Front Hall," depicting a handsome young man who stops to straighten his tie: "the old mirror was all joy now,/proud to have embraced/total beauty for a few moments." My own favorite in the book is one of the longer poems, "Orophernis," about a wastrel king of the 2nd Century B.C. who came to grief trying to be a real king for once. The final five lines of this poems are Cavafy in a nutshell;

The figure on this four drachma coin,
a trace of whose young charm can still be seen,
a ray of his poetic beauty--
this sensuous commemoration of an Ionian boy,
this is Orophernis, son of Ariarathis.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 12, 1998
Format: Paperback
Kavafy is the the perfect guide in our exploration of life. I reccommend this book highly. Edmund Keeley has done a wonderful job in bringing Kavafy's poetry to us.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lucy Levant on January 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am a big fan of Edmund Keeley's translations of Demotic Greek and Katherevousa. Having an armchair scholar's knowledge of the language I can appreciate the labor that has gone in to the refinement of the translations in the decades since the first edition. This volume reads very well in English, and I have given many of these as gifts over the years to poetry fans who do not know a word of Greek, always resulting in a comment about how such a poet could be so little known. Cavafy probably would have preferred it that way!
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Format: Paperback
I recently came across, and reviewed, "The Collected Poems of C. P. Cavafy", as translated by Aliki Barnstone. That prompted me to compare Barnstone's translations with the ones Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard made, as contained in this edition, C. P. CAFAVY: COLLECTED POEMS, published by Princeton University Press. I decided that I prefer these; they are slightly more poetic and slightly less cryptic. (Still, there is much to commend in the Barnstone book, including the Notes.) That, in turn, prompted me to go back and read (or re-read) all of the poems as translated by Keeley and Sherrard. Doing so has been a treat.

C. P. Cavafy, a Greek living in Alexandria, certainly is one of the great poets of the twentieth century. His poetic output, as contained in this volume, starts in 1896 and ends in 1932. He wrote relatively few poems, about 175. They tend to be short, ranging from four to ninety lines. In the original Greek some were rhymed and many employed some sort of metrical or syllabic pattern. (For most poems, the Notes to this volume contain information as to rhyme and meter of the original Greek.)

Many of the poems are set in the Greek world from about 500 B.C. to 1100 A.D.; some of these feature gods and heroes from Greek myth and others feature actual historical figures (for example, Marc Antony, Nero, and Julian the Apostate). To me, the poems of the ancient Classical world are somewhat like Greek or Roman statues, betokening wondrous craftsmanship; some, however, are as cold as marble, but others seemingly come to life and are true works of art. They give the sense of projecting centuries back in time - or is it that they project from Classic times forward to the twentieth century? Whichever, the time travel instills a sense of timelessness.
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Format: Paperback
An Aesthetic Vision on West 43rd Street
An Evening with the Poet C. P. Cavafy

Eugene Schlanger

[This essay first appeared in the University Bookman.]

On November 18, 2013 at The Town Hall in New York City, the PEN American Center presented an evening tribute to the Greek poet C. P. Cavafy in celebration of the 150th anniversary of his birth. The readers and speakers included the actor Sir Sean Connery (recorded), the actresses Olympia Dukakis and Kathleen Turner, the Nobel Laureate in literature Orhan Pamuk, the American poet Mark Doty, the writers André Aciman, Michael Cunningham, and Daniel Mendelsohn (who published a translation of Cavafy in recent years), and Cavafy’s distinguished translator Professor Edmund Keeley. David Hockney’s portrait of Cavafy was projected onto a large screen on the stage. Some poems were also displayed on this backdrop during the program, as was a photographic essay of the building of the new library at Alexandria in Egypt and a short film that featured a poem imposed upon a seascape. The celebration ended in performance art: two young men, one nude and one dressed in black, commingled their body parts on the bare stage so that the audience saw the nude calf of one become part of the draped thigh of the other. Ostensibly a celebration of great poetry, the evening was less than poetic. Someone unfamiliar with Cavafy’s greater poems may not be encouraged to read them.
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C. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems (Lockert Library of Poetry in Translation)
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