Constantine P. Cavafy, also known as Konstantin or Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis, or Kavaphes (April 29, 1863 –April 29, 1933) was a major Greek poet who worked as a journalist and civil servant.
He has been called a skeptic and a neo-pagan. In his poetry he examines critically some aspects of Christianity, patriotism, and homosexuality, though he was not always comfortable with his role as a nonconformist. He published 154 poems; dozens more remained incomplete or in sketch form. His most important poetry was written after his fortieth birthday.
Since his death, Cavafy’s reputation has grown. He is now considered one of the finest modern Greek poets. His poetry is now taught at schools in mainland Greece and throughout the world in Universities.
Cavafy divides his own work into three categories:
Historical poems: These poems are mainly inspired by the Hellenistic era with Alexandria at primary focus. Other poems originate from Helleno-romaic antiquity and the Byzantine era. Mythological references are also present. The periods chosen are mostly of decline and decadence (eg Trojans); his heroes facing the final end.
Sensual poems: The sensual poems are filled with lyricism and emotion; inspired by recollection and remembrance. The past and former actions, sometimes along with the vision for the future consist the muse of Cavafy in writing these poems.
Philosophical poems: Also called instructive poems they are divided into poems with consultations to poets and poems that deal with other situations such as closure (for example, “The walls”), debt (for example, “Thermopylae”), and human dignity (for example, “The God Abandons Antony”).
Constantine P. Cavafy
For some people the day comes
when they have to declare the great Yes
or the Great No. It’s clear at once who has the Yes
ready within him; and saying,
he goes forward in honor and self-assurance.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
he would still say no. Yet that no—the right no—
undermines him all his life.