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Friday, April 21, 2017


Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis
(Κωνσταντίνος Πέτρου Καβάφης)
(image source: wikimedia)
no copyright infringement intended

The portrait above was made sometime around 1900. Kavafis was approaching his forty years. Born in Alexandria, where he spent most of his life, of Constantinopolitan descent, little known in mainland Greece during his life, and one of the greatest poets of the past century. His poems are concise, ambiguous about common sense morality (no wonder giving his intimate ambiguity), uncertain about future, nostalgic for a bygone time (also ambiguously crayoned). Beyond the intricate elegance of his lines, you always feel his personal obsessions, almost unbearable.

My first encounter with his name was sometime in my twenties, through the literary chronicles published by A. E. Baconsky in one of the Romanian cultural magazines. By then, to speak too much about modern poetry was not always easy. Baconsky did it with courage and determination. And so I learned about Kavafis, and Ungaretti, and Saba, and some others.

I found yesterday a short poem by Kavafis (but all his poems are short) in Descontexto, a Chilean magazine that speaks about art, politics and culture. I will put it here shortly. Well, and my memories went back to those far away epoch when I was in my twenties, reading the chronicles of Baconsky, learning about some great modern poets.

(A Life in Books)



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