Ah, these nights of January
when I sit recreating our moments
in my mind and I meet you
and hear our last words and hear our first.
These desperate nights of January
as vision goes and I am alone.
How does it go, and quickly fade-
gone the trees, gone the streets, gone the houses, gone the lights,
your erotic face erased and lost.
C. P. Cavafy (1863-1933) was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and grew up in Liverpool, England and Constantinople (now Istanbul). Considered one of the most accomplished Greek poets of the twentieth century, he published little work during his lifetime and prefered to circulate poems among close friends. However, he had a long friendship with British novelist E. M. Forester, who was impressed with Cavafy’s poems set during antiquity and wrote an essay called “The Poetry of C. P. Cavafy” that praised him for bucking traditional representations of ancient Greece. Cavafy’s work was also starkly personal, and many of his poems dealt explicitly with sex and homosexuality. His best-known poems, “Ithaca” and “Waiting for the Barbarians,” inspired generations of modern Greek poets who came after him, including Nobel laureate George Seferis.