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C. P. Cavafy: The Unfinished Poems

C. P. Cavafy: The Unfinished Poems

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Add This - C. P. Cavafy: The Unfinished Poems

Written by C.P. CavafyAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by C.P. Cavafy
Translated by Daniel MendelsohnAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Daniel Mendelsohn

  • Format: Hardcover, 144 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • On Sale: April 7, 2009
  • Price: $30.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-307-26546-3 (0-307-26546-3)

It Must Have Been the SpiritsIt must have been the spirits that I drank last night,it must have been that I was drowsing, I'd been tired all day long.The black wooden column vanished before me,with the ancient head; and the dining- room door,and the armchair, the red one; and the little settee.In their place came a street in Marseille.And freed now, unabashed, my soulappeared there once again and moved about,with the form of a sensitive, pleasure-bent youth-the dissolute youth: that too must be said.It must have been the spirits that I drank last night,it must have been that I was drowsing, I'd been tired all day long.My soul was released; the poor thing, it'salways constrained by the weight of the years.My soul was released and it showed mea sympathique street in Marseille,with the form of the happy, dissolute youthwho never felt ashamed, not he, certainly. Birth of a PoemOne night when the beautiful light of the moonpoured into my room . . . imagination, takingsomething from life: some very scanty thing-a distant scene, a distant pleasure-brought a vision all its own of flesh,a vision all its own to a sensual bed . . . RemorseTalk about it, this remorse, to soften it-noble to be sure, but dangerously one- sided.Don't cling to the past and torment yourself so much.Don't give so much importance to yourself.The wrong you did was smaller than youimagine; much smaller.The goodness that has brought you this remorse nowwas secreted inside you even then.See how a circumstance that suddenlyreturns home to your memory explainsthe reason for an action that had hardly seemedcommendable to you, but now is justified.Don't count too absolutely on your memory;you've forgotten much-different odds and ends-that would have justified you quite enough.And don't presume you knew the man you wrongedso very well. He surely had virtues you were unaware of;nor perhaps are those deep wounds the onesthat you imagine (out of ignorance of his life)to be the dreadful blows that came from you.Don't count on your feeble memory.Temper your remorse, which is alwaysso one-sidedly against you, it's casuistry.

Excerpted from C. P. Cavafy: The Unfinished Poems by C. P. Cavafy Copyright © 2009 by C. P. Cavafy. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.