Translator's notes

The Deadline

By Constantine Cavafy

Constantine Cavafy died in Alexandria – the city in which he had spent most of his life – in 1933. Shortly before his death at the age of seventy he took Holy Communion at the Orthodox Church. His last act was to trace a circle on a piece of paper and then place a full-stop in its centre. It was a suitably enigmatic end to a life in which he wrote poems almost in secret, shunning publication and sharing them with a select circle of friends. His reputation as one of the finest Greek poets of the twentieth century came only after his death with the publication in 1935 of his first collection. W.H. Auden drew attention to Cavafy’s ‘unique tone of voice’, claiming that it ‘survives translation’. These versions form part of The Cavafy Variations, due for publication by Rack Press in 2013.

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