Cavafy ~ Hellenic Modernist Poet

Day 357 of Colourisation Project – April 29

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication. 

Widely considered one of the foremost modern Greek poets of the 20th century, Constantine P. Cavafy was born on this day, April 29, 1863 and died on this day, April 29, 1933 –his 70th birthday.

C.P. Cavafy

Photographer unknown ~  C.P. Cavafy 1901 ~ Loredana Crupi

Never having published any of his work during his lifetime, Cavafy remained virtually unrecognized in Greece until late in his career. However since his death eighty-two years ago, Cavafy has come to be recognized as one of the greatest poets of modern times.

Although regarded as the first modernist Greek poet, he drew inspiration from the ancient world, particularly the Hellinistic Era of Alexandria, around and after the days of Alexander the Great. His poetry falls under three categories; historical, philosophical and love poems.

Rejecting the traditional Christian values and heterosexual ethics, his love poems, elegiac and candidly sensual, were entirely devoted to adult love between men. Well advanced by the standards of his time, they were also lessons in universal love transcending sexual preference and rooted in a common shared humanity.

Since his death from cancer of the larynx in 1933, Cavafy was largely held responsible for the revival and recognition of Greek poetry outside of Greece. His reputation continues to grow and his legacy lives on today through his body of work, which has been translated into many languages. His former home has been converted into a Museum honoring his life and works. The Greek Ministry of Education, Religion, Culture and Sport proclaimed 2013 “Year of Constantine Cavafy.”

His last motion just before dying reportedly, was to draw a circle on a sheet of blank paper, and then to place a period in the middle of it.


Walls  by C.P. Cavafy

Without consideration, without pity, without shame
they have built great and high walls around me.

And now I sit here and despair.
I think of nothing else: this fate gnaws at my mind;

for I had many things to do outside.
Ah why did I not pay attention when they were building the walls.

But I never heard any noise or sound of builders.
Imperceptibly they shut me from the outside world.

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