Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Guest Blog by Konstantinos Kavafis

Genet has nothing to say today, so the turn of the century (20th, that is) Alexandrian-Greek homosexual poet Konstantinos Kavafis* will entertain you with three of his poems. He's dead (since 1933), so show some respect. And they aren't that long, so just read them and relax.

* The popular spelling of his name is the latinized Constantine Cavafy. Being of Greek heritage, that spelling looks and sounds wrong to me, so I instead prefer to transliterate from the Greek as is becoming more common now.

In Despair

He has lost him completely. And now he is seeking
on the lips of every new lover
the lips of his beloved; in the embrace
of every new lover he seeks to be deluded
that he is the same lad, that it it to him he is yielding.

He has lost him completely, as if he had never been at all.
For he wanted -- so he said -- he wanted to be saved
from the stigmatized, the sick sensual delight;
from the stigmatized, sensual delight of shame.
There was still time -- as he said -- to be saved.

He has lost him completely, as if he had never been at all.
In his imagination, in his delusions,
on the lips of others it is his lips he is seeking;
he is longing to feel again the love he has known.

Waiting for the Barbarians

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are due here today.
Why isn't anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?

Because the barbarians are coming today.
What laws can the senators make now?
Once the barbarians are here, they'll do the legislating.
Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting at the city's main gate
on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
He has even prepared a scroll to give him,
replete with titles, with imposing names.
Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.
Why don't our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and they're bored by rhetoric and public speaking.
Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people's faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?

Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.
And now, what's going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.

As Much As You Can

Even if you can't shape your life the way you want,
at least try as much as you can
not to degrade it
by too much contact with the world,
by too much activity and talk.
Do not degrade it by dragging it along,
taking it around and exposing it so often
to the daily silliness
of social relations and parties,
until it comes to seem a boring hanger-on.


At 1:46 PM, Blogger PDD said...

I pay my respects.

I had read something from Kavafis in the past which I really liked, but can't remember now what it was.

I had started reading from the bottom, begining with "As Much As You Can", and as I was making my way up to the top, with confusion, I was begining to believe you had mutated into a suburban lesbian... until you had finally pointed out that you were not the author of these poems, Which were delightful to read. Thank You.

And I know I should know better than to think you would ever allow your genes to mutate into a suburban lesbian, you would "beat them off" before such catastrophy could occur. I know, I know.


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