Cover image for Before time could change them : the complete poems of Constantine P. Cavafy ; translated with an introduction and notes by Theoharis Constantine Theoharis.
Before time could change them : the complete poems of Constantine P. Cavafy ; translated with an introduction and notes by Theoharis Constantine Theoharis.
Cavafy, Constantine, 1863-1933.
Uniform Title:
Works. English. 2001
Publication Information:
New York : Harcourt, [2001]

Physical Description:
xxx, 354 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
PA5610.K2 A28 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Since his death almost seventy years ago, C. P. Cavafy has come to be recognized as one of the greatest poets of modern times. Elegiac, deeply sensual, and able to plumb the heart with language of immense richness, Cavafy evokes the great lost classical world of the Mediterranean with unparalleled beauty. Much of his poetry deals with love, specifically homosexual love. It speaks of human passions, the experience common to all mankind of love offered, sought, and lost. His verse is beautiful and embracing, and remains as alive and sensuous as it was when he wrote it.

Theoharis Constantine Theoharis offers a new translation, one that presents Cavafy's work in the thematic order Cavafy wanted it published and emphasizes the tenderness and intensity of the love poems. Gore Vidal's foreword offers an explication of Cavafy's world, a valuable map for readers of what will be embraced as a signal volume of world poetry.

Author Notes

Constantine P. Cavafy (1863-1933) was born in Alexandria, Egypt, to Greek parents. He is considered to be the greatest of modern Greek poets.
Theoharis Constantine Theoharis teaches at Harvard University.
Gore Vidal is the author of many bestsellers

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Whether Shakespeare was gay and how gay Whitman was will probably be debated forever. Meanwhile, there is no question that the great Alexandrian Greek poet Cavafy (1863^-1933) was homosexual. He wrote of furtive homosexual trysts, loves and powers lost, and gracefully meeting defeat by affirming passion and joy. The personae of his poems are fellow homosexuals, contemporary and historical, and defeated figures out of the eastern Mediterranean's long history. His verses are modernly irregular; the later a poem is in his career, the fewer and looser are its rhymes, and his diction is conversational rather than, as in other, including even modern, Greek verse, rhetorical. Theoharis' translation adds a dozen poems to the Cavafy-in-English canon. Otherwise, his versions differ little from Rae Dalven's 1960 and Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrerd's 1975 renderings, both still in print. No one objects to new Englishings of the yet more frequently translated Rilke, say, or Akhmatova, and Cavafy is of their stature, a figure whose worth almost mandates multiple editions. --Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

Though Cavafy never published a book during his lifetime, preferring to circulate his poems privately in broadsides and pamphlets, acclaim for his work has grown steadily, both in the U.S. and abroad, since his death in 1933. A Greek citizen who lived and worked in Alexandria, Cavafy is esteemed both for his elegant redactions of classical and ancient history and myth, and for his gorgeously muted and candidly homosexual poems of erotic longing and loss. As is clear in these conversational and freewheeling versions, those two contexts don't mark a major division in his oeuvre, as desire frequently enters the former, while the latter are typically informed by a classical sense of decorum: "Yesterday, walking in a remote quarter,/ I passed outside the house/ I used to enter when I was very young./ Eros, with his magnificent force,/ had seized my body there." Recurrent themes of the joys of youth and art, along with an emphasis on Hellenism in all eras, also lend the poems a remarkable consistency. Like the expanded edition of Rae Dalven's landmark translations, this book presents a number of earlier efforts that the mature Cavafy repudiated. Unlike Dalven's collection, however, this volume presents Cavafy's authorized work in the order the poet gave it before his death. Though translator Theoharis Theoharis's versions are commendably relaxed, the windily inconsequential preface by Gore Vidal is no substitute for Auden's insightful introduction in the Dalven volume or for the helpful biographical sketch that appears in Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard's collection. Containing nine poems never before published in English, this volume will no doubt be a necessity for completists readers, though those new to Cavafy's work will do well with any of the collections currently available. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



The CityYou said: "I will go to another land, I will go to another sea.Another city will turn up, a better one than this.My efforts-each is judged and damned beforehand,and my heart is buried, like a dead man.And my mind, how long will it remain in this morass.Anywhere I turn my eye, anywhere I look,the black ruins of my life are what I see here,where I have spent so many years, where I have botched andspoiled so many."You will not find other places, you will not find other seas.The city will follow you. All roads you walkwill be these roads. And you will age in these same neighborhoods;and in these same houses you will go gray.Always you will end up in this city. For youthere is no boat-abandon hope of that-no road to other things.The way you've botched your life here, in this small corner,makes for your ruin everywhere on earth.Copyright ©2001by Theoharis C. TheoharisForeward Copyright ©2001by Gore Vidal Published by Harcourt, Inc. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Before Time Could Change Them: The Collected Poems of Constantine P. Cavafy by Constantine Cavafy All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Gore Vidal
Forewordp. xv
Introduction: Let All Its Guarded Passion Shinep. xxiii
Poems: 1905-1915
The Cityp. 3
The Satrapyp. 4
The Wise Sense Imminent Eventsp. 5
The Ides of Marchp. 6
Things Run Outp. 7
The God Forsakes Antonyp. 8
Theodotosp. 9
Monotonyp. 10
Ithacap. 11
As Long as You Canp. 13
Trojansp. 14
King Dimitriosp. 15
The Glory of the Ptolemiesp. 16
Procession of Dionysusp. 17
The Battle of Magnesiap. 18
The Displeasure of Selefkidesp. 19
Orophernisp. 20
Alexandrian Kingsp. 22
Philhellenep. 24
The Footstepsp. 25
Herodis Attikosp. 26
Tyanan Sculptorp. 27
Tomb of the Grammarian Lysiasp. 28
Tomb of Evrionp. 29
That's the Manp. 30
Dangerous Remarksp. 31
Manuel Komninosp. 32
In Churchp. 33
Very Seldomp. 34
For the Shopp. 35
Paintedp. 36
Morning Seap. 37
Ionianp. 38
At the Entrance to the Cafep. 39
One Nightp. 40
Returnp. 41
Far Offp. 42
He Swearsp. 43
I Wentp. 44
Chandelierp. 45
Poems: 1916-1918
Since Nine O'Clock--p. 49
Understandingp. 50
Before the Statue of Endymionp. 51
Envoys from Alexandriap. 52
Aristovoulosp. 53
Kaisarionp. 55
Nero's Termp. 56
In the Portp. 57
One of Their Godsp. 58
The Tomb of Lanisp. 59
The Tomb of Iasisp. 60
In a Town of Osroinip. 61
The Tomb of Ignatiosp. 62
In the Month of Athyrp. 63
For Ammonis, Who Died at 29, in 610p. 64
Aimilianos Monai, Alexandrian, 628-655 A.D.p. 65
When They Surge, Excitedp. 66
Pleasure in the Fleshp. 67
I've Gazed So Long, So Much--p. 68
In the Streetp. 69
The Tobacco Shop Windowp. 70
Passing Throughp. 71
In the Eveningp. 72
Grayp. 73
Before the Housep. 74
The Next Tablep. 75
Remember, Body...p. 76
Days of 1903p. 77
Poems: 1897-1908 excluded from POEMS: 1905-1915 and Poems: 1916-1918
Voicesp. 81
Desiresp. 82
Candlesp. 83
An Old Manp. 84
Prayerp. 85
The Old Men's Soulsp. 86
The First Stepp. 87
Interruptionp. 88
Thermopylaep. 89
Che Fece ... Il Gran Rifiutop. 90
The Windowsp. 91
Waiting for the Barbariansp. 92
Unfaithfulnessp. 94
The Horses of Achillesp. 96
Wallsp. 97
The Funeral of Sarpedonp. 98
Unpublished Poems: 1919-1932
The Afternoon Sunp. 103
To Abidep. 104
Of the Jews (50 A.D.)p. 105
Imenosp. 106
From the Shipp. 107
Of Dimitrios Sotir (162-150 B.C.)p. 108
If Actually Deadp. 110
Young Men of Sidon (400 A.D.)p. 112
That They Might Appear--p. 113
Dareiosp. 114
Anna Komninap. 116
A Byzantine Gentleman, in Exile, Composing Versesp. 117
Their Originp. 118
The Favor of Alexander Valasp. 119
Melancholy of Jason Kleander; Poet in Kommagini; 595 A.D.p. 120
Dimaratosp. 121
I've Brought to Artp. 123
From the School of the Renowned Philosopherp. 124
Craftsman of Winebowlsp. 126
Those Who Fought for the Achaian Alliancep. 127
Before Antiochus Epiphanisp. 128
In an Old Book--p. 129
Desperationp. 130
Julian, Seeing Contemptp. 131
Epitaph of Antiochus, King of Kommaginip. 132
Theater of Sidon (400 A.D.)p. 133
Julian in Nicomediap. 134
Before Time Could Change Themp. 135
He Came to Read--p. 136
31 B.C. in Alexandriap. 137
John Kantakuzinos Triumphsp. 138
Temethos, Antiochian; 400 A.D.p. 139
Of Colored Glassp. 140
The 25th Year of His Lifep. 141
On an Italian Shorep. 142
In the Dull and Gloomy Villagep. 143
Apollonios of Tyana in Rhodesp. 144
The Illness of Kleitosp. 145
In a Township of Asia Minorp. 146
Priest at the Serapeionp. 147
In the Wineshops--p. 148
A Grand Procession of Priests and Laymenp. 149
Sophist Departing from Syriap. 150
Julian and the Antiochiansp. 151
Anna Dalassinip. 152
Days of 1896p. 153
Two Young Men, 23 to 24 Years Oldp. 154
Greek from Ancient Timesp. 156
Days of 1901p. 157
You Didn't Understandp. 158
A Young Man, a Writer--in His 24th Yearp. 159
In Spartap. 160
Picture of a Young Man, Twenty-three, Done by His Friend of the Same Age, an Amateurp. 161
In a Large Greek Colony, 200 B.C.p. 162
A Prince from Western Libyap. 164
Kimon, Son of Learchos, Age 22, Student of Greek Literature (in Kyrini)p. 165
On the March to Sinopip. 166
Days of 1909, '10, and '11p. 167
Myris: Alexandria, 340 A.D.p. 168
Alexandros Iannaios, and Alexandrap. 171
Flowers White and Beautiful, as Were Most Becomingp. 172
Come, O King of the Lacedaimoniansp. 173
In the Same Spacep. 174
The Mirror in the Vestibulep. 175
He Asked about the Quality--p. 176
They Might Have Botheredp. 178
Following the Formulas of Ancient Greco-Syrian Magiciansp. 180
In the Year 200 B.C.p. 181
Days of 1908p. 183
One Extra: 1933
In the Districts Surrounding Antiochp. 187
Hidden Poems: 1884-1923
Beizades to His Belovedp. 191
Dunya Guzelip. 192
When, My Friends, I Was in Lovep. 193
Nichorip. 195
Epic in the Heartp. 196
Stephanos Skilitsisp. 197
Correspondence According to Baudelairep. 198
[Fragments of an untitled poem]p. 200
"Nous n'osons plus chanter les roses"p. 201
Indian Imagep. 202
Pelasgian Imagep. 203
The Hereafterp. 205
The Mimiambi of Herodasp. 206
Blue Eyesp. 208
The Four Walls of My Roomp. 209
Alexandrian Merchantp. 210
The Hospitality of Lagidesp. 211
In the Cemeteryp. 212
Priam's Speeding Forth at Nightp. 213
Epitaphp. 215
A Displeased Viewerp. 216
To Jerusalemp. 217
A Second Odysseyp. 219
One Who Has Failedp. 221
The Pawnp. 222
Terrorp. 223
In the House of the Soulp. 224
Rainp. 225
La Feunesse blanchep. 227
Distinguishing Marksp. 228
Eternityp. 229
Confusionp. 230
Salomep. 231
Chaldaic Imagep. 232
Julian at the Mysteriesp. 233
The Catp. 234
The Bank of the Futurep. 235
What Cannot Bep. 236
Additionp. 237
Bouquetsp. 238
Lohengrinp. 239
Suspicionp. 240
Death of a Generalp. 241
The Intervention of the Godsp. 242
King Claudiusp. 243
The Naval Battlep. 246
When the Watchman Saw the Lightp. 247
The Enemiesp. 248
Artificial Flowersp. 249
Becoming Strongerp. 250
September 1903p. 251
December 1903p. 252
January 1904p. 253
On the Stairsp. 254
At the Theaterp. 255
Poseidoniansp. 256
The End of Antonyp. 257
27 June 1906, 2 P.M.p. 258
Hidden Thingsp. 259
On Hearing of Lovep. 260
"The Rest I Will Tell to Those Below in Hades"p. 261
Sop. 262
Return from Greecep. 263
Exilesp. 264
Theophilos Palaiologosp. 265
And I Reclined and Lay on their Bedsp. 266
Half an Hourp. 267
House with a Gardenp. 268
A Great Feast at the Home of Sosibiosp. 269
Simeonp. 270
The Bandaged Shoulderp. 271
Coinsp. 272
Takenp. 273
From the Drawerp. 274
Prose Poems from Hidden Poems
The Regiment of Pleasurep. 275
The Shipsp. 276
Garmentsp. 279
Rejected Poems: 1886-1898
Bacchicp. 283
The Poet and the Musep. 284
Buildersp. 286
Word and Silencep. 287
Sam el Nesimp. 288
Singerp. 290
Vulnerant Omnes, Ultima Necatp. 291
Good and Bad Weatherp. 292
Timolaos the Syracusanp. 293
Athena's Votep. 295
The Inkwellp. 297
Sweet Voicesp. 298
Elegy of the Flowersp. 299
Melancholy Hoursp. 300
Oedipusp. 301
Ode and Elegy of the Roadsp. 302
By an Open Windowp. 303
A Lovep. 304
Memoryp. 307
The Death of the Emperor Tacitusp. 308
The Footsteps of the Eumenidesp. 309
The Tears of the Sisters of Phaetonp. 310
Ancient Tragedyp. 312
Horace in Athensp. 314
The Tarantians Divert Themselvesp. 315
The Funeral of Sarpedonp. 316
Voice from the Seap. 318
Notes on Selected Poemsp. 320
Publication Acknowledgmentsp. 354