C. P. Cavafy: The Canon
Sexual desire, political ambition, artistic need: Cavafy has a singular apprehension of how these forces make themselves felt in individual lives. Their inexorability both enthralls and dismays him, and one of the things that gives the poetry its rare steadiness is his ability to penetrate past circumstance into what is sensed as fate - sensed not only by the poet but by his protagonists and his readers also. Everywhere in these poems there is reverie and hedonism, irony and antiquarianism, but we can never identify the poet himself as a pure and simple daydreamer or hedonist or ironist or antiquarian. Even so, the plane of regard is not over-elevated: the human predicament here is presented neither as divine comedy nor fully blown tragedy, but is seen from a viewpoint located somewhere between Olympus and Gethsemance.
[...] Content may be where these poems begin but they cannot attain their end without "Cavafy's" voicing. We are lucky that Stratis Haviaras has been so responsive to its betwitching registers and has been able to transpose them and afford them an extra carrying power in English.
Seamus Heaney (excerpted from the foreword)
These marvelous new translations of Cavafy's poems remind us once again that he is one of the finest and most original poets in world literature. I envy the reader about to discover him.
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