C.P. Cavafy ‘He Came to Read—’ (1924)

C.P. Cavafy portrait

He came so he could read. Lying open

are two or three books: historians and poets.

But he’d barely read for ten minutes,

when he put them aside. On the sofa

he’s half asleep. He’s completely devoted to books—

but he’s twenty-three years old, and very handsome;

and this afternoon desire has come

to his flawless flesh, and to his lips.

To his flesh, which is beauty entire,

the fever of desire has come;

without foolish shame about the form of its enjoyment…

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~ by ohkrapp on June 29, 2009.

2 Responses to “C.P. Cavafy ‘He Came to Read—’ (1924)”

  1. disclosure: i don’t own any books by cavafy. i didn’t even know who he was until i read a review of a new translation of his poetry in the march 23 issue of the New Yorker (a great article, by the way). this poem appeared in full in that issue.

    the translation (which everyone appears to agree is excellent) is by daniel mendelsohn. you can find it here.

  2. Never really been a fan of Cavafy. I guess I just find his verse sort of mundane. To each his own, I guess.

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