From all I did and all I said,
let them not seek to find who I was.
It stood an obstacle in my way this, altering
my actions and my way of life.
This stood an obstacle in my way, stopping me
all the times I wanted to speak out.
My most unnoticed actions,
discreet writings, those most disguised—
from these alone they’ll understand me.
But maybe it’s not worth so much care,
all this effort just to know what and who I am.
A long time from now—in a more perfect world—
some other made like me will appear
and, to be sure, he will act freely.
Aπ’ όσα έκαμα κι απ’ όσα είπα
να μη ζητήσουνε να βρουν ποιος ήμουν.
Εμπόδιο στέκονταν και μεταμόρφωνε
τες πράξεις και τον τρόπο της ζωής μου.
Εμπόδιο στέκονταν και σταματούσε με
πολλές φορές που πήγαινα να πω.
Οι πιο απαρατήρητές μου πράξεις
και τα γραψίματά μου τα πιο σκεπασμένα—
από εκεί μονάχα θα με νιώσουν.
Aλλά ίσως δεν αξίζει να καταβληθεί
τόση φροντίς και τόσος κόπος να με μάθουν.
Κατόπι—στην τελειοτέρα κοινωνία—
κανένας άλλος καμωμένος σαν εμένα
βέβαια θα φανεί κ’ ελεύθερα θα κάμει.
C. P. CAVAFY is a Greek poet who was born in Alexandria in 1863. During his lifetime, Cavafy's concise and innovative lyrical style went unrecognized for its nonconformity to the contemporary mainstream literary circles. Cavafy often wrote about the psychological and philosophical role of the individual, and many of his poems are both incisive and personal. He was also greatly influenced by the cultural changes of his era and the Hellenistic history that defined his people. Since his death in 1933, his work has gained renown, and he is now widely considered one of the most celebrated modern Greek poets.
JOHN CHIOLES is a fiction writer, theatre director, and translator living in New York and Athens. His translation of Cavafy’s canon is forthcoming from Harvard University Press.