Translate to:

Constantine Cavafy was born in Alexandria (Egypt) at 1863 year and died there seventy years later of throat cancer. EFS his life would have pleased the most pickiest of “new critics” *(1). Cavafy was the ninth child of a wealthy merchant family, welfare which deteriorated rapidly after the death of his father. Nine years old, the future poet was sent to England, where the firm “Cavafy and Sons” were branch, and he returned to Alexandria sixteen. He was raised in the Greek Orthodox faith. Some time visiting Hermes Lyceum, Commercial College in Alexandria, but, rumored, More fond of ancient classics and history, commerce than art. However, perhaps, it's just a cliche, typical for any biography of the poet.
AT 1882 year, when Cavafy was nineteen, in Alexandria took place anti-European riots, cause major (at least, the scale of the last century) bloodshed; British responded to the bombardment of the city from the sea. But as Cavafy shortly before she had gone with her mother to Constantinople, he lost the case to be present at a single historical event, took place in Alexandria during his life. Three years, they lived in Constantinople, — significant for its formation years. It was in Constantinople historical diary, which he kept for several years, It was terminated — records “Alexander…”. probably, here he also acquired his first homosexual experience. Twenty-eight Cavafy first joined — temporary — petty official in the Department of Irrigation of the Ministry of Public Works. Temporary Service was rather constant: he stayed on it for another thirty years, from time to time laboring on brokerage Alexandria Stock Exchange.
Cavafy knew Greek and Modern Greek, Latin, Arabic and French; he read Dante in Italian, and he wrote his first poems in English. But if any literary influences and have been (Edmund Coley book under review noted some influence of the English Romantics), they should be referred to the stage of poetic development Cavafy, which the poet himself has excluded from its “canon vault” (by definition, E. Kelly). In the future handling of the Cavafy, what it was known as the Hellenistic times “mimiyamby” (or simply “mimes”) *(2), and his understanding as a peculiar genre of epitaphs, that Kohli is quite right, predosteregaya us from bluzhdaniy in anthologies Palatinskoy *(3) in search of sources.
Uneventful life of Cavafy was such, that he never published a book of his poems. He lived in Alexandria, he wrote poetry (occasionally printed on them feuilles volantes *(4), brochures or leaflets, extremely limited edition), I interpreted in a cafe with a local or a visiting writers, playing cards, I am on the turf, He attended homosexual brothels and occasionally dropped in church.
Every poet is lost in translation, and Cavafy no exception. only what, he also gets. He becomes not only because, it is very didactic poet, but also because, that already from 1909–1910 He's started to release his poetry from all poetic Appliances — rich imagery, comparisons, metrical and rhyming shine. it — mature economy, and Cavafy resorts to deliberately “poor” Drugs, the use of words in their primary values, to further enhance the cost savings. So, eg, he calls emeralds “green”, a body describes as “young and beautiful”. This technique has come, when Cavafy knew, that language is not an instrument of knowledge, but the assignment tool, that man, this natural bourgeois, It uses the same language, like clothing or housing. it seems, poetry -uniqueness weapons to defeat his own language, language, means.
Appeal to Cavafy “poor” definitions creates an unexpected effect: there is a certain mental tautology, which liberates the reader's imagination, while more elaborate images and comparisons have captivated the imagination or restrict it already reached their. Based on this, translation of Cavafy –almost the next logical step in the direction of, which developed the poet, — step, which the poet himself would wish to do.
But, perhaps, he did not need it: in itself is, he used the metaphor, it was enough for him, to stay there, where he stayed, or even earlier. Cavafy did a very simple thing. Metaphor typically formed from two components: description of object (“content”, He is calling it I.A.Richarde) and object, to which the first tied by the imagination or just grammar (“carrier” *(5) ). communication, which are typically present in the second part, gives the writer the opportunity to completely unrestricted development. This is the mechanism of the poem. Almost from the beginning of his poetic career Cavafy focused directly on “carrier”; developing and subsequently developing its implicit reliance on the first part of the metaphor, but not concerned about the return of her as a self-evident. “carrier” Alexandria was, “content” — a life.
“Alexandria Cavafy” is subtitled “A study in the development of the myth” *(6). although expression “myth in the development of” It was invented by George Seferis, “metaphor research in the development of” would fit better than. Myth — essentially belonging doellinisticheskogo period, and it seems, that the word “myth” well chosen, especially if you remember your own attitude to all sorts of Cavafy hackneyed approaches to the topic of Greece: mifo- and the hero-production, nationalist itching, etc.. d. — inherent in so many artist's words, as a fellow Cavafy, and foreigners.
Alexandria Cavafy – this is not quite Yoknapatawpha County, no-Tilbury Town or Spun-river *(7). This is primarily launched, bezradostnыy peace, at the stage of decline, when bitterness weakened familiarity decomposition. In some respects, opening of the Suez canal in 1869 year, it has done more to destroy Alexandria shine, than Roman rule, the introduction of Christianity and the Arab invasion, taken together: shipping, Alexandrian base economy, almost has moved to Port Said. What could be perceived Cavafy as a distant echo of the moment, when -vosemnadtsat centuries ago — Cleopatra's ships went past the same course after the defeat at Actium.
He called himself a historical poet, and book Kelly, in its turn, to some extent the archaeological enterprise. But we must bear in mind, that the word “story” the same applies to both the national destiny, and to the particular circumstances. In both cases, it means the memory, record, interpretation. “Alexandria Cavafy” — a sort of reverse archeology, because Kelly is dealing with the bedding of an imaginary city; He moves with great caution, knowing, These layers can be quite mixed. Keli clearly distinguish at least five of them: literal city, metaphorical city, sensual city, mythical Alexandria and the Hellenistic world. Finally, it is a table, defining, to which category each poem. This book is just as wonderful guide to the fictional Alexandria, as an e book. M. Foster of Alexandria real. (Foster dedicated his book to Cavafy, and was the first, who introduced the English reader with Cavafy.)
Opening Keli helpful, as well as its method; if we do not agree with some of his conclusions, it is because, that the phenomenon was and is more extensive, than implying etsya these discoveries. Understanding this scale lies, However, in the excellent work of Kelly as a translator. If it is something unsaid in the book, it is mainly because, that he had already made it into translation. One of the main features of historical works, especially ancient history, — inevitable stylistic ambiguity, expressed or conflicting information in redundancy, or definitely contradictory evaluation of these data. Already Herodotus and Thucydides, not to mention Tacitus, sometimes sound like modern paradoxalist. In other words, ambiguity is inevitably accompanied by the desire for objectivity, to whcih — since the Romantics — It seeks every more or less serious poet. We already know, that Cavafy was walking along this path purely stylistic; We also know of his passion for history.
At the turn of the century Cavafy achieved this objective, although ambiguous, respectively, passionless sound, in which he had to work the next thirty years. sense of history — more precisely, its readers' tastes — subjugate it and provided a mask. Man is a product of reading; poet — especially. Cavafy in this sense — Greek, Roman and Byzantine (especially Psellos) library. In particular, he -sobranie documents and signatures, relating to the Greco-Roman period, covering the last three centuries BC. e. and the first four after. That impassive cadenza of the first and second formal pathos are responsible for the appearance of his poetics — for this cross between an archive and epitaphs. This type of diction, regardless of, Whether it is used in “history” poems or poems purely lyrical nature, It creates a strange effect of authenticity, izbavlyaya avtorskie insights and agoniyu of redundancy, imposing on them the imprint of restraint. Standard poetic conventions and sentimental cliches from the pen of Cavafy's take on the character masks and are equally intense, how much and “poor” epithets.
Always pleasant to delineate the boundaries, when you are dealing with the poet, but archeology Keli required. Kelly introduces us to Cavafy about the time, when the poet found his voice and his theme. Then Cavafy was already over forty, and he formed a definite opinion about many things, including the real city of Alexandria, in which it decided to stay. Keli very convincing with respect to the difficulty of such a decision for Cavafy. With the exception of six or seven unrelated poems, “real” the city does not appear directly in the canonical 220 Cavafy's poems. speak first “metaphorical” and the mythical city. This just proves the point of view of Keli, as the utopian idea, even, as in the case of Cavafy, It refers to the past, usually implies intolerance present. The neglected and abandoned place, the stronger the desire to revive him. What keeps us from saying, that Cavafy's decision to stay in Alexandria was, so to speak, typically Greek (obedience Rock, He was placed here; obedience Parks), is Cavafy's own distaste for mythologizing; and the part of the reader, perhaps, an understanding, that every choice is essentially an escape from freedom.
Other valid explanation for the decision to stay Cavafy is, which is not that he liked himself, to believe himself worthy of the best. Whatever the reason, his fictional Alexandria there is as alive, like a real city. Art is an alternative form of existence, Although the emphasis is on “the existence”, because the creative process is neither an escape from reality, Our sublimation ff. Anyway, it was not for Cavafy sublimation, and its interpretation “sensual city” generally — direct proof.
Cavafy was a homosexual, and freedom, with which he treated the subject, It was advanced not only by the rules of the time, like Kelly believes, but modern. Very little or nothing at all does not give his views correlation with traditional Eastern Mediterranean mores: too much of a difference between the Hellenistic world and the real society, in which the poet lived. If the morale of a real city assumed camouflage technique, the memories of the Ptolemaic grandeur were to cause a kind of boastful exaggeration. us so, any other strategy was not acceptable to Cavafy, because he was, first of all, poet of contemplation and because both approaches are more or less incompatible with the feeling of love as such.
Ninety percent of the best poetry written postcoitum, as in the case of Cavafy. Whatever the subject of his poems, they are always written in retrospect. Homosexuality as such leads to introspection more, than heterosexuality. I think, what “gay” the concept of sin is much more developed, than “normal” *(8) concept: “normal” people provided, at least, possibility of instant redemption by marriage or other socially acceptable forms constancy. Homosexual same psychology, as well as the psychology of any minority, its strong tinting and brings personal vulnerability to such an extent, that occurs on mental rotation 180 degrees, in which the defense can go in the attack. In a way, homosexuality is the norm sensual maximalism, which absorbs and absorbs the mental and emotional abilities of the person as fully, what “heartfelt thoughts”, old friend T. WITH. Eliot, It ceases to be an abstraction. Homosexual idea of ​​life in the long run, probably, a multifaceted, than heterosexual. this idea, theoretically, It provides the perfect excuse to write poems, although in the case of Cavafy this opportunity is nothing more than an excuse.
the, that counts in art, it is not sexual inclinations, of course, but that, that are created. Only a superficial or biased critic enroll in the poems of Cavafy simply “homosexual” or will bring the matter to his “hedonystycheskym prystrastyyam”. Cavafy's love poems are written in the same spirit, that his historical poems. Retrospektivnaya nature such author, that often occurs even feeling, what “pleasure” -one of the most frequently used of Cavafy's words at the thought of sexual contact — It was “the poor”, almost in the same sense, the real Alexandria, according to Kelly, It was a poor remnant of something grand. The protagonist of lyric poetry — often lonely, aging man, despising his own appearance, disfigured by the same Time, that changed and so much more, what was essential to his existence.
The only thing available to a person means, to cope with the time, It has a memory; namely its exclusive, sensually historical memory creates the uniqueness of Cavafy. The mechanics of love, as such, presupposes the existence of a kind of bridge between the sensual and the spiritual — assumption, shall communicate to the deification of love sometimes, for the idea of ​​transcendent life is present not only in our copulations, but also in our separations. Paradoxically, therein, as for this Hellenic “special love”, Cavafy's poems, in which only en passant *(9) affected traditional depression and anguish, are trying to (or, rather, conscious failure) revive the once favorite shade. Or — their photos.
Cavafy's critics try to domesticate his outlook, taking the hopelessness of impartiality, meaninglessness and understanding of all things — for ironiyu. Love poems of Cavafy should not call “tragic”, but terrifying: For the tragedy of it is a fait accompli *(10), while fear is a product of the imagination (indifferently, where directed: into the future or into the past). loss of a sense of where he sharply, feeling than finding, simply because, that the separation experience much longer the, than stay together. Hardly seems, that Cavafy was more sensible on paper, than reality, where guilt and exclusion are already strong constraining circumstances. these verses, as “before, than the time changed their” or “Tucked away”, turn inside formula Susan Sontag “a life — this movie; death — the photo”. speak otherwise, Cavafy's hedonistic addiction, if any, determined by his sense of history, because the story, among other things, It involves irreversibility. And vice versa, if historical Cavafy poems were imbued with hedonism, they would have turned into mere jokes.
One of the best examples of, How does this dual technique, poem about fifteen Kesarione, son of Cleopatra, nominally the last king of the Ptolemaic dynasty, who was executed by the Romans in “conquered Alexandria” by Emperor Octavian. One evening, Kesariona stumbled on the name in some historical book, author indulges in fantasies about teenage and “free vыleplivaet” it in his mind with “such detail”, that at the end of the poem, when Kesarion doomed to death, we perceive his execution almost as rape. And then the words “conquered Alexandria” acquire for certain quality: painful consciousness of personal loss.
Not so much by combining, as equating sensuality to history, Cavafy tells his readers (and Me) classic Greek tale of Eros miropravyaschem. In Cavafy's lips it sounded especially convincing because most, that his poems are full of the decline of the Hellenistic world, — ie the, as an individual that he is in miniature — or in the mirror. As if from an inability to be exact miniaturist, Cavafy is building a large-scale model of the adjacent Alexandria and the Hellenistic world. it — fresco, and if it looks patchy, partly because the, which reflects its creator; mostly the same way because, that the Hellenistic world in his nadir was fragmented and politically, and cultural. He began to crumble after the death of Alexander the Great, and war, riots, etc. torn it apart for centuries, just as the contradictions tearing apart the personal consciousness. the only force, fastening these colorful cosmopolitan rags, был magna linua Grecae; the same could be said about Cavafy and his own life. Probably, most uninhibited voice, which can be heard in the poetry of Cavafy, -this is a deep passion, with which he enumerates the delights of the Hellenistic lifestyle: Hedonism, Art, The philosophy of the Sophists and “especially our great Greek”.
It does not put an end to the Roman conquest of the Hellenistic world, but one day, when Rome fell the most in Christianity. The relationship between the pagan and Christian worlds — the only issue, inadequate lighting in the book Keli. it, however, understandably: by itself, this subject deserves a separate book. Flatten Cavafy to homosexual, whose disagreement with Christianity, it would be an unpardonable simplification. For not more comfortable he felt with paganism. He was sober enough, to realize, that came into this world with a mixture of both in blood and in the world, in which he came, Both are mixed. He felt uncomfortable not because of one or the other, and due to the fact [and] another, so that it was not in division. throughout, at least, visibility was a Christian: always wore a cross, He attended church on Good Friday and before the end of sacrament. probably, and in his heart he was a Christian, but the most stinging irony of it was directed against one of the major Christian vices — pious intolerance. However, for us, his readers, Most important, of course, Cavafy not belong to a particular church, but that, how he handled the mixing of the two religions; and Cavafy's approach was not a Christian, nor Gentile.
At the end of the pre-Christian era (although in general, people, bude they are aware of the coming of the Messiah or of the impending catastrophe, resorted, scoring time, to subtract) Alexandria was for sure bazaar faiths and ideologies, including Judaism, local Coptic cults, Neo and, of course, svezhepostupivshee Christianity. Polytheism and monotheism were common subject of discussion in the city, It is the location of the first in the history of civilization of this academy — Muzeyon. of course, opposing one another faith, we certainly detach them from their context, and the context was exactly, Alexandrians that interested until the day, when they were told, it's time to choose something one. This they did not like; I do not like it, and Cavafy. When Cavafy uses words “paganism” or “Christianity”, we have to follow him to keep in mind, that they were simple conventions, common denominators, whereas the meaning of civilization comes down to the numerator.
In his historical poems Cavafy uses the, that Keli calls “community” metaphors, ie metaphors, based on the political symbolism (eg, in poems “Darius” and “While waiting for the barbarians”); and this is the second reason, why Cavafy almost benefited from the translation. Policy itself is a sort of meta-language, mental uniforms, and, Unlike most contemporary poets, Cavafy extremely good at her unbutton. AT “kanone” Seven poems about Julian the Apostate — not too little, Considering the brevity of the board Yulianova (three years). There had to be a reason, Cavafy why so interested in Julian, Kelly and explanation does not seem convincing. Julian was brought up as a Christian, but, receiving the throne, I tried to restore paganism as the state religion. Although the idea is the state religion, provides the Christian leaven Julian, he acted qualitatively different methods. Julian did not persecute Christians, I did not try to convert them. He just robbed Christianity of state support and sent his sages to public debates with Christian clergy.
Priests are often lost these verbal duels, partly due to the fact, which is usually less prepared for the debate, than their opponents, as simply proceeded from the fact, their Christian dogma better. Anyway, Julian was tolerant to, what he called “galileanizm”, whose Trinity he regarded as backward mixture of Greek polytheism with Judaic monotheism. The only offense of Julian, which could be regarded as persecution, this requirement is to return some pagan temples, Christians captured during predecessors Julian, and prozelitstvovat ban in schools. “Denigrating our gods should not allow young men to learn and interpret the works of Homer, Gesioda, Demosfena, Thucydides and Herodotus, these gods worshiped. Let their own Galilean churches they interpret Matthew and Luke”.
Not having even their own literature and generally not having too much of, that could be opposed to the arguments of Julian, Christians attacked most of his tolerance, with which he treated them, calling him Herod, carnivorous scarecrow, arhilzhetsom, which is a cunning devil does not pursue them openly, to fool simpletons. Whoever, eventually, in fact Julian, Kavafis, apparently, interesting attitude of the Roman Emperor to the problem. Seem to be, that Cavafy saw Julian person, who was trying to keep both metaphysical possibility, not choosing, but creating a link between them, to bring out the best in both. it, of course, rational approach to spiritual matters, but above all, Julian was a politician. His attempt was a heroic, if you take into account the scope of the problem, and the possible consequences. At the risk of being accused of idealizing, Julian wants to be called a great soul, obsessed with understanding, that neither Paganism, nor Christianity are not sufficient by themselves, taken separately: neither that, nor the other can not fully satisfy the spiritual needs of man. There is always something painful in the balance, always feel a certain partial vacuum, generating, best case scenario, sense of sin. In fact, man's spiritual restlessness is not satisfied with any philosophy, and there is no doctrine, about which — without incurring the curse — can say, it combines both, except perhaps the stoicism or existentialism (the latter can be regarded as the same stoicism, but under the tutelage of Christianity).
sensual and, here, spiritual extremist can not be satisfied with this decision, but he can give him. Significantly in this assignment, However, not what, and he gives. Understanding, that he did not choose between paganism and Christianity, but swayed between them, like a pendulum, significantly expands the scope of the poetry of Cavafy. Sooner or later, however, pendulum realizes the limits set by him. Unable to escape from them, pendulum, However, catch some glimpses of the outside world, aware of their subordination and the, that the directions of oscillation are given from the outside and that they manage time, in which he participates movement, but that does not define.
Hence the note incurable boredom, which makes Cavafy's voice, with its hedonistic-stoic tremolo so exciting. Even more exciting it becomes, when we realize, that we are on the side of this man, we know his situation, even if it is only in the poem of the adaptation of a pagan to devout Christian regime. I mean the poem “If indeed dead” of Apollonius of Tyana, pagan prophet, who lived just thirty years later Christ, He was famous for miracles, healings, He was not buried anywhere and, Unlike Christ, I could write.
translator's Note
1. American “new criticism” (1930-It is yy.), like Russian formalists, denied the biographical data value for the analysis of the writer's creativity.
2. Mimiyamby — “realistic”, with elements of satire genre of Hellenistic poetry.
3. Palatinskaya anthology — huge, over 4000 poetry, but almost the only source of Greek poetry during the Middle Ages, Renaissance and up to the XVIII century. All poems are epigrams Palatine Anthology (in the Hellenistic sense).
4. The individual sheets, sheets of notebook (France.).
5. Surprisingly, our theorists have not developed a language for the theory of metaphor. Sometimes (eg, YU. Levin) used “straight” English translation “tenor” and “vehicle” — “kernel” and “carrier”. AT. Raskin suggests instead clumsy “rod” good old days “content “.
6. Cavafy’s Alexandria: Study of a Myth in Progress, by Edmund Keeley. Harvard University Press, 196 pp.
7. Yoknapatawpha County — County Name Faulkner: Tilybyuri-Town — the name of the town in Maine in the American poet Robinson (Edwin Arlington Robinson, 1869–1935); Spun-river — town name, where the inhabitants of the cemetery lived, mentioned by Edgar Lee Masters (1869–1950) в Spoon River Anthology (1915).
8. Another difficulty for the translator: in modern Russian is not stylistically neutral colloquial synonyms cumbersome “homosexual”, “heterosexual”; available catchwords belong jargon and have pezhorativny character, Unlike commonly used in modern American “gay– straight” (cf.. undeveloped terminology theory of metaphor).
9. in passing, by the way ([France.]).
10. “accomplished fact” — word of art ([France.]).

Most visited Brodsky's poetry

All poetry (content alphabetically)

Leave a Reply