Nightmares End

“You stupid damn fool, why’d you shoot this customer?”

“I didn’t shoot this customer.  I plugged them ones over there.  I must have killed all three of them.  Look at the size of them holes.”

Nobody cares about “Advertisements”.  I think it looks good.  WordPress keeps trying to get me to start paying for this site.  I refuse because I shut this site down.  It’s got nothing to do with me.  I sent the fluffy white hounds on their way and not just because it wasn’t about them.  Tired of WordPress trying to get me to pay for something I have never paid for and will never pay for.  Who the hell do they think they’re trying to kid?

I like this “Refresh connection with Linkedin.”  I dumped “Linkedin” too, and, true to form, it’s not like anyone has noticed.  That’s not how we roll.

“Years ago you came here expecting miracles. That somehow it was going to work for you.  It didn’t.  Now you’re lost.”

But at least we’ll always have Facebook.

It’s all right.  It was always all right.  It’s okay.  It’s fine.  I’m getting up and walking out. Without even looking at the stupid thing he ripped it into small pieces and threw it in the trash where it belonged.

Moving on.  You know you’re having a bad dream when you’re moaning and screaming so loudly you wake yourself up.  And you feel bad because you’re not alone and you’ve disturbed the night.

Thinking again about C.P. Cavafy (1863 – 1933).  A beautiful and exciting poet.  To the heady memory of Antiochos the Great!  Cheers!

Cavafy’s exoticism, his references to ancient times and to his times.  A unique character.  Born in Alexandria, Egypt of Greek heritage.  Youngest of nine children.  Father had started an import-export business in Liverpool, England.  In 1870, when Cavafy was seven, his father died.  Within two years his mother had moved her family to Liverpool.

Cavafy spent seven years in England until the age of sixteen and learned to speak English fluently.  The influence of English literature and of English manners remained with him.

In 1882 Cavafy moved from Alexandria to Constantinople, modern Istanbul, with his mother and remained there three years before returning to Alexandria.  This sojourn also impacted his artistic sensibilities.  He wrote his first poems in English, French and Greek.

At the age of 29, back in Alexandria and still living with his mother, he  became a government clerk.  He stayed with the firm for thirty years, retiring with the rank of “Assistant Director”.  Cavafy also earned money as a broker on the Egyptian Stock Exchange.

Cavafy stayed with his mother until her death in 1899 then lived with his unmarried brothers and then lived alone for most of the rest of his life.  C.P. Cavafy was a gay man. His one intimate, long-standing friendship was with Alexander Singopoulos who became his heir and literary executor.

It’s certainly that exoticism that drew me to Cavafy, and his brilliant, straightforward, colloquial style.  The standard English translation of Cavafy’s poems is by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherwood and was first published in 1975 by the Hogarth Press.  The translators don’t attempt to imitate Cavafy’s use of rhyme schemes in his original modern Greek.

C.P. Cavafy circa 1900

Cavafy never offered for sale a volume of his poems in his lifetime, preferring to pass around privately published pamphlets of his works among his friends and relatives.  One writer has described his “uncommon esthetic acetiscism”.  That appealed to me too.

Cavafy wasn’t entirely unknown to the wider public. He had a twenty year acquaintanceship with E.M. Forster who introduced his work to English speaking audiences.

In 1926, living in Alexandria, he received the Order of the Phoenix and in 1930 was named to the International Committee for the Rupert Brooke memorial statue placed on the island of Skyros.

A Prince From Western Libya

Aristomenis, son of Menelaos,
the Prince from Western Libya
was generally liked in Alexandria
during the ten days he spent there.
In keeping with his name, his dress was also suitably Greek.
He received honours gladly,
but he didn’t solicit them; he was unassuming.
He bought Greek books,
especially history and philosophy.
Above all he was a man of few words.
It got around that he must be a profound thinker,
and men like that naturally don’t speak very much.

He wasn’t a profound thinker or anything at all–
just a piddling, laughable man.
He assumed a Greek name, dressed like the Greeks,
learned to behave more or less like a Greek;
and all the time he was terrified he’d spoil
his reasonably good image
by coming out with barbaric howlers in Greek
and the Alexandrians, in their usual way,
would start to make fun of him, vile people that they are.

This was why he limited himself to a few words,
terribly careful of his syntax and pronunciation;
and he was driven almost out of his mind, having
so much talk bottled up inside him.


Author: Steven Brown


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