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Cavafy wrote poems, while dozens more remained incomplete or in sketch form. During his lifetime, he consistently refused to formally publish his work and preferred to share it through local newspapers and magazines , or even print it out himself and give it away to anyone interested. His most important poems were written after his fortieth birthday, and officially published two years after his death. Cavafy was born in in Alexandria , Egypt , to Greek parents who originated from the Greek community of Constantinople Istanbul , 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 , Cavafy and his family settled for a while in Liverpool. In , his family faced financial problems due to the Long Depression of , so, by , they had to move back to Alexandria. In , disturbances in Alexandria caused the family to move again, though temporarily, to Constantinople. This was the year when a revolt broke out in Alexandria against the Anglo-French control of Egypt, thus precipitating the Anglo-Egyptian War.
Alexandria was bombarded by a British fleet, and the family apartment at Ramleh was burned. In , Cavafy returned to Alexandria, where he lived for the rest of his life. His first work was as a journalist; then he took a position with the British-run Egyptian Ministry of Public Works for thirty years.
Egypt was a British protectorate until He published his poetry from to in the form of broadsheets, and only for his close friends. Any acclaim he was to receive came mainly from within the Greek community of Alexandria. Eventually, in , he was introduced to mainland-Greek literary circles through a favourable review by Gregorios Xenopoulos. He received little recognition because his style differed markedly from the then-mainstream Greek poetry.
It was only twenty years later, after the Greek defeat in the Greco-Turkish War — , that a new generation of almost nihilist poets e. Karyotakis found inspiration in Cavafy's work. He died of cancer of the larynx on April 29, , his 70th birthday. Since his death, Cavafy's reputation has grown. His poetry is taught in school in Greece and Cyprus , and in universities around the world.
Forster knew him personally and wrote a memoir of him, contained in his book Alexandria. Forster, Arnold J. Toynbee , and T. Eliot were among the earliest promoters of Cavafy in the English-speaking world before the Second World War. Cavafy was instrumental in the revival and recognition of Greek poetry both at home and abroad.
His poems are, typically, concise but intimate evocations of real or literary figures and milieux that have played roles in Greek culture. Uncertainty about the future, sensual pleasures, the moral character and psychology of individuals, homosexuality , and a fatalistic existential nostalgia are some of the defining themes.
Besides his subjects, unconventional for the time, his poems also exhibit a skilled and versatile craftsmanship, which is extremely difficult to translate. His mature style was a free iambic form, free in the sense that verses rarely rhyme and are usually from 10 to 17 syllables. In his poems, the presence of rhyme usually implies irony.
Cavafy drew his themes from personal experience, along with a deep and wide knowledge of history, especially of the Hellenistic era. Many of his poems are pseudo-historical, or seemingly historical, or accurately but quirkily historical. One of Cavafy's most important works is his poem Waiting for the Barbarians. The poem begins by describing a city-state in decline, whose population and legislators are waiting for the arrival of the barbarians. When night falls, the barbarians have not arrived.
The poem ends: "What is to become of us without barbarians? Those people were a solution of a sort. In , Cavafy wrote "Ithaca", inspired by the Homeric return journey of Odysseus to his home island , as depicted in the Odyssey.
The poem's theme is the destination which produces the journey of life: "Keep Ithaka always in your mind. The traveller should set out with hope, and at the end you may find Ithaca has no more riches to give you, but "Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey". Almost all of Cavafy's work was in Greek; yet, his poetry remained unrecognized and underestimated in Greece, until after the publication of the first anthology in by Heracles Apostolidis father of Renos Apostolidis.
His unique style and language which was a mixture of Katharevousa and Demotic Greek had attracted the criticism of Kostis Palamas , the greatest poet of his era in mainland Greece, and his followers, who were in favour of the simplest form of Demotic Greek. He is known for his prosaic use of metaphors, his brilliant use of historical imagery, and his aesthetic perfectionism. These attributes, amongst others, have assured him an enduring place in the literary pantheon of the Western World.
Cavafy has written over a dozen historical poems about famous historical figures and regular people. He was mainly inspired by the Hellenistic era with Alexandria at primary focus. Other poems originate from Helleno-romaic antiquity and the Byzantine era. Mythological references are also present. The periods chosen are mostly of decline and decadence e.
Trojans ; his heroes facing the final end. The sensual poems are filled with the lyricism and emotion of same-sex love; inspired by recollection and remembrance. The past and former actions, sometimes along with the vision for the future underlie the muse of Cavafy in writing these poems.
Also called instructive poems, they are divided into poems with consultations to poets, and poems that deal with other situations such as isolation for example, "The walls" , duty for example, "Thermopylae" , and human dignity for example, " The God Abandons Antony ".
The poem "Thermopylae" reminds us of the famous battle of Thermopylae where the Spartans and their allies fought against the greater numbers of Persians, although they knew that they would be defeated.
There are some principles in our lives that we should live by, and Thermopylae is the ground of duty. We stay there fighting although we know that there is the potential for failure.
At the end the traitor Ephialtes will appear, leading the Persians through the secret trail. In another poem, "In the Year B. However, in other poems, his stance displays ambiguity between the Classical ideal and the Hellenistic era which is sometimes described with a tone of decadence. Another poem is the Epitaph of a Greek trader from Samos who was sold into slavery in India and dies on the shores of the Ganges : regretting the greed for riches which led him to sail so far away and end up "among utter barbarians", expressing his deep longing for his homeland and his wish to die as "In Hades I would be surrounded by Greeks".
Cavafy's Alexandria apartment has since been converted into a museum. The museum holds several of Cavafy's sketches and original manuscripts as well as containing several pictures and portraits of and by Cavafy. Selections of Cavafy's poems appeared only in pamphlets, privately printed booklets and broadsheets during his lifetime. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Constantine P. Theoharis Constantine. Cavafy - Greek writer". Retrieved 28 January Yale University Press. Poetry Foundation. Alexandria: Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Cavafy - Poems - The Canon". The New York Times. Retrieved August 29, This article's use of external links may not follow Wikipedia's policies or guidelines. Please improve this article by removing excessive or inappropriate external links, and converting useful links where appropriate into footnote references.
Constantine Cavafy in Poet , journalist , civil servant. When you depart for Ithaca, wish for the road to be long, full of adventure, full of knowledge. Fear not the Laestrygonians and the Cyclopes, nor the angry Poseidon. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Constantine P. Wikiquote has quotations related to: Constantine P. Greek Wikisource has original text related to this article: Cavafy in Greek.
Constantine P. Cavafy was a Greek poet, although he was born and spent most of his life in Alexandria, Egypt. The Odyssey revolves around the hero Odysseus and his long voyage home to Ithaka after the Trojan war. My hero in the comic is NOT meant to be Odysseus.
Ítaca - Constantino Kavafis / Recitado
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Itaca (Version en Griego) Constantino Kavafis