Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cavafy and _________: A ______ and a Poem, #2

C. P. Cavafy by Yiannis Kephallenos

Occasionally, I come across a poem that I'd like to pass along, with an attendant song, in no particular context beyond the fact that it is a very good short poem (and a good song). Last month, it was a Tom Waits song and a Jack Gilbert poem.
Recently, I ran across this beautiful little poem by Constantine Cavafy about love, sex, and age, and thought I'd highlight it here. When I started thinking about songs, Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl" immediately came to mind. Morrison spends a lot of time "going back," and has referenced this song, and, I believe, the particular love it chronicles, more times than I can count over the years. Ironically, this piece of universally loved nostalgia was written by Van at a very young age, which is a good argument for reincarnation or simply indicative of the fact that Van just never got out enough.

Body, Remember

Body, remember not only how much you were loved,
not only the beds on which you lay,
but also those desires for you that glowed plainly in the eyes,
and trembled in the voice-
and some chance obstacle made futile.
Now that all of them belong to the past,
it almost seems as if you had yielded to those desires-
how they glowed,
remember in the eyes gazing at you;
how they trembled in the voice, for you, remember, body.

Constantine Cavafy
translated by Rae Dalven



plum blossom scent--
a hazy memory
of my nanny's house
translated by David G. Lanoue


PS. A note for those who are on Facebook: there is a move afoot to rename a San Francisco street after current city Poet Laureate and all around great poet, memorist, and person, Diane DiPrima. For those of you so inclined, check it out here.


Ed Baker said...

talking tuther day about translations about the newest re: Trakl I was gonna mention a cpl of other "boss" translations that go / take us far beyond mere wordings:

The Complete Poems of CAVAFY (tr. Rae Dalven)


Seferis' Three Secret Poems (tr. Walter Kaiser)

in the first the Cavafy book of) neat-must-read intro by Auden

another position to posit... something CC said:

"it's easy to translate, difficult to write in one's own language"

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Yes, Dalven, very well done. I see the Auden intro you recommend may be read here, so let's do that, eh.

And the Seferis ... I'm up on my Cavafy and my Trakl but need to look to Seferis. See I must do that at my library, so a hold had been duly placed.

Thanks for all this - keeping the old fart on his toes!

Ed Baker said...


I have an earlier edition of that Cavafy 1961

looks like what you put up is/was an exact reprint of with a different cover..

either way same "stuff" inside.

check out poem/


interesting that he published his first book in 1904 ! and his second in 1910!!! geeze...then nothing else but in mags for the rest of his life.
noh need for bio just "go to the poems"

another poet (Greek) that Dalven has translated: Joseph Eliyia who I know not of...

maybe google both him and Rae Dalven..

maybe she will translate from English to Greek my "Greek poems"?

Ed Baker said...

here is image up top and down in of the Cavafy edition I have:

and his ITHACA:

seems to me Pound learned a buch from them turn of the century
"modern" Greek poets... most likely he stole alot?

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Alas, Delvan has died - NYT obit.

Will have to seek out poem, not available in google preview.

Paper smells better than this pc anywho ...