Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"Body, remember not only how much you were loved"

Body, remember not only how much you were loved,
not only the beds on which you lay,
but also those desires which for you
plainly glowed in the eyes,
and trembled in the voice -- and some
chance obstacle made them futile.

From "Body, Remember" by C.P. Cavafy, trans. by George Barbanis. The complete poem is here. (There are "official" translations here and here, but I like Barbanis's DIY effort better than either.)

Undergrowth with walking couple, Vincent van Gogh, 1890


indieperfumes said...

One of my fave VG paintings, and this poet's name keeps coming up so I know it means something, like knocking on my door.

Perfumeshrine said...


what a delight!!! Cavafy is probably my most beloved poet (I'd want my tombstone to read "God forsakes Antony", a poem that accompanied some of the bitterest moments in life). Babanis by the way does a hell of a job translating, he retains the spirit of the poet.

For Lucy (hi there!), I recommend she peruses the whole site by Babanis (it'shonestly very good). Another favourite is "The City", beautifully set to music read by a great Greek actor in this beautiful clip

BitterGrace said...

I think you introduced me to Cavafy's poetry, E, so thanks! And thanks for that beautiful clip. I'm off to check out the rest. I suspect Lucy will do the same. :-)

Perfumeshrine said... remember. So glad it made an impression.
His poetry is nicely divided into three categories: the (homo)erotic ~such as the one you posted~, the didactic (like The City) and the (pseudo)historic. Each offering its own distinct flavour...