Thursday, April 13, 2006

In Despair

C P Cavafy


He has lost him completely. And now he is seeking
in 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 is 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 stigmatised, the sick sensual delight;
from the stigmatised, 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.

(English translation by Rae Dalven)

A follow-up of sorts to the Rilke poem. This is the flip side of the lover's absence - not the lover you can't find, by the lover you can't forget, the endless search for a present experience that will live up to the remembered bliss of the past.

Cavafy, of course, should require no introduction. He is a master of lyrical simplicty, his poems understated masterpieces, statements of plain fact or ordinary emotion that take on, in his writing, in the aching aura of his voice, the incantatory quality of truth.


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