Three Poems by C.P. Cavafy
translations by Daniel Mendelsohn
No restraint. I surrendered completely and I went.
To gratifications that were partly real,
partly careening within my mind --
I went in the illuminated night.
And drank powerful wines, just as
the champions of pleasure drink.
In the Entrance of the Cafe
Something they were saying close to me
drew my attention to the entrance of the cafe.
And I saw a lovely body that looked as if
Eros had made it using all his vast experience:
crafting with pleasure his shapely limbs;
making tall the sculpted build;
crafting the face with emotion
and leaving behind, with the touch of his hands,
a feeling in the brow, the eyes, the lips.
Come back often and take hold of me,
beloved feeling come back and take hold of me --
when the memory of the body reawakens,
and old longing once more passes through the blood;
when the lips and skin remember,
and the hands feel like they're touching once again.
Come back often and take hold of me at night,
when the lips and skin remember...
[copyright Cavafy, Mendelsohn, Knopf 1904, 1909, 1912]
Photo by Allan Grant