The Collected Poems of C. P. Cavafy: A New Translation

by C. P. Cavafy, Aliki Barnstone

Published: March 2007
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Pages: 306
Paperback
ISBN: 9780393328998

       

Overview of The Collected Poems of C. P. Cavafy: A New Translation

C. P. Cavafy (1863-1933) has written some of the most powerful poems in history. His work uncannily translates history, the record of the many, into an individual personal document. Though Cavafy is wickedly satirical, many of his poems are located in a landscape of intimacy. Drawing on the spectrum of ancient Greek poetic tradition, his poetry is still internal, whether his speaker is a spoiled rich boy who plans to enter politics or a poor, ostracized, pure and beautiful young man destroyed by poverty and priggish social mores.

In these glimmering and lyrical translations, with an introduction and scholarly endnotes cowritten with Willis Barnstone, Aliki Barnstone has been faithful to the original Greek, capturing both Cavafy's song and his vernacular in ways neglected in previous translations. Paying close attention to tone and diction, she has employed her well-tuned poet's ear, making Cavafy's verse breathe new music in English.

Synopsis of The Collected Poems of C. P. Cavafy: A New Translation

A new translation of a poet widely considered one of the most important of the twentieth century.

The Washington Post - Michael Dirda

At its best, his mature work hardly seems poetry at all. (Marguerite Yourcenar once likened his short pieces to reading notes or aides-memoires .) Cavafy prefers nouns and avoids epithets, uses rhyme sparingly if at all, offers lots of historical or physical detail, and typically casts a poem as a dramatic monologue. Even his titles are oddly prosaic, though touched with a kind of shabby grandeur: "A Byzantine nobleman in exile composing verses" or "The melancholy of Iason Kleandros, poet in Kommagini, 595 C.E." In fact, Cavafy gains most of his power, as the Greek poet George Seferis insists, when we view his work as "one and the same poem" and "read him with the feeling of the continuous presence of his work as a whole.

About the Author, C. P. Cavafy

Aliki Barnstone’s translations have appeared in American Poetry Review, TriQuarterly, Virginia Quarterly Review, and other journals. An editor and critic, she lives in Las Vegas and teaches at UNLV.

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Editorials

Andrei Codrescu

“Cavafy’s simplicity, learning, pleasure in sex, tranquility in exile, have healed our anguish for over a century. . . . Cavafy’s deeply cultured melancholy and praise of learning and the body flow unimpeded in Barnstone’s translations.”

Michael Dirda

At its best, his mature work hardly seems poetry at all. (Marguerite Yourcenar once likened his short pieces to reading notes or aides-memoires .) Cavafy prefers nouns and avoids epithets, uses rhyme sparingly if at all, offers lots of historical or physical detail, and typically casts a poem as a dramatic monologue. Even his titles are oddly prosaic, though touched with a kind of shabby grandeur: "A Byzantine nobleman in exile composing verses" or "The melancholy of Iason Kleandros, poet in Kommagini, 595 C.E." In fact, Cavafy gains most of his power, as the Greek poet George Seferis insists, when we view his work as "one and the same poem" and "read him with the feeling of the continuous presence of his work as a whole.
— The Washington Post

Library Journal

This new translation brings Cavafy into the 21st century, creating "something refined and polished" but entirely accessible, too. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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