Konstantinos P.Kavafis


Konstantinos Kavafis (biography)

      Konstantinos Kavafis is considered one of the finest modern Greek poets. He born in 1863 in Alexandria Egypt,to Greek parents. His father was a prosperous importer-exporter who had lived in England in earlier years and acquired British nationality.

       In 1885, Cavafy returned to Alexandria, where he lived for the rest of his life. His first work was as a journalist; then he took a position with the British-run Egyptian Ministry of Public Works for thirty years. (Egypt was a British  protectorate until 1926).

        A biographical note written by Kavafis reads as follows:

"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”. 

   He died, in1933, his 70th birthday. Since his death, Kavafi's reputation has grown. His poetry is taught at schools in mainland Greece and Cyprus, and in Universities around the world.

   Arnold Toynbee, and T.S.Eliot  were among the earliest promoters of Kavafy in the English-speaking world before the Second World War.

         Kavafis was instrumental in the revival and recognition of Greek poetry both at home and abroad.

         His poems are very difficult in translation and the presence of rhyme usually implies  irony. He drew his themes from personal experience, along with a deep and wide knowledge of history.



    “Waiting for the Barbarians” begins by describing a city-state in decline, whose population and legislators are waiting for the arrival of the barbarians. When night falls, the barbarians have not arrived. The poem ends: "What is to become of us without barbarians? Those people were a solution of a sort."

     In 1911, Kavafis wrote “Ithaca, inspired by the Homeric return journey of Odysseus to his home island. The poem's theme is that enjoyment of the journey of life, and the increasing maturity of the soul as that journey continues, are all the traveler can ask for.

Not the island, but the idea of Ithaca is important. Life is also a journey, and everyone has to face difficulties like   Odysseus, when he returned from Troy. When you reach Ithaca, you have gained so much experience from the voyage, that it is not very important if you reached your goals. Ithaca cannot give you riches, but she gave you the beautiful journey.

    Kavafi's Alexandria apartment has since been converted into a museum. The museum holds several of Kavafi's sketches and original manuscripts as well as containing several pictures and portraits of and by Kavafis.





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