Cavafy 1863 - 1933 (70)
AS YOU CAN
Even if you cannot live your life as you wanted to,
at least try this
as much as you can; do not humiliate it
into the affinity of the world
into the gestures and the conversations.
Do not humiliate it by bringing it,
by hanging around and exposing it,
to the daily stupity
of the realtions and the interactions,
til it becomes a strange and obtrusive one.
Constantine Cavafy (April 29, 1863 - April 29, 1933) is one of the most important contemporary Greek poets. He was born and lived in Alexandria, his parents had fled form Constantinople in 1840, Constantine was their ninth child. His father was a cotton merchant, his mother belonged to an old aristocratic family of Constantinople, the commercial status of his father and the nobility of his mother shaped his character. His father died in 1870, when Constantine was 7, their company gradually dissolved and the family settled in England (Liverpool and London) where they stayed until 1876. They returned to Alexandria and Constantine was taught English, French and Greek by a tutor at home, then he completed his education in the Greek Educational school of Alexandria for 2 years. The period 1882-1884 he stayed in Istanbul, in 1897 he traveled to Paris and in 1903 in Athens, the rest of his time he lived in Alexandria. After occasional jobs in brokerage firms, in 1922 at the age of 59 he joined the Ministry of Public Works. In 1932, Cavafy got sick with throat cancer, he went for treatment in Athens where he remained for some time, collecting the warm support of his fans. He returned to Alexandria, his condition worsened. He died on April 29,1933, the day he completed 70 years of life, in the hospital of Greek Community of Alexandria.
Cavafy began publishing poems in 1886, he classified them into three categories: historical, philosophical and sensual or sensuous. His entire work consists of 154 poems acknowledged by himself (Qualified), 37 from his youth in romantic purist who later recanted (disavowed), 75 poems found in his house, ready to be published, and 30 incomplete. Cavafy was working persistently every single verse, sometimes for years, before giving them for publication. The first complete edition of his poems (154 recognized) was held in Athens in 1935 and was sold out immediately. Today his poetry has prevailed not only in Greece but all over the world, it has a prominent position in European poetry, after the translations of his poems originally in French, English, German and then in many other languages.
A biographical note written by Cavafy:
"I am from Constantinople by descent, but I was born in Alexandria—at a house on Seriph Street; I left very young, and spent much of my childhood in England. Subsequently I visited this country as an adult, but for a short period of time. I have also lived in France. During my adolescence I lived over two years in Constantinople. It has been many years since I last visited Greece. My last employment was as a clerk at a government office under the Ministry of Public Works of Egypt. I know English, French, and a little Italian.