Featured Poem

Two poems: Grey Opal and Exiles

Grey Opal

Looking at this opal makes me think
of those grey eyes that I once loved:
eyes I looked into deeply for a month
before he took a job and moved away.

Where did he go to? I forget.
It must be all of twenty years and yet
It seems like yesterday. Eyes of opal. Opal eyes.
Those eyes have lost their lustre
and that lovely face has aged –

but, memory, if you can bring them back
bring back a memory of that love.
Make it come alive again tonight.


Alexandria persists. To walk
the length of this long road
that ends outside the Hippodrome
is to see the ancient city at its best.
Despite the ravaged temples
and the residue of war,
despite neglected gardens
and the shrunken populace
the city still survives.
Time passes pleasantly for us
in private study and in walks.
At night we go down to the shore –
a group of Greeks disguised
by different names – and talk about
the latest news from Rome,
discuss affairs of church and state.
Of course we keep these opinions hid.
Last night we read some poetry:
an epic which we all pronounced as fine.
All of this is bearable because
we know our exile won’t last long.
On that we’re all agreed.
The word we hear is positive.
A few more months of this
and then our allies will prevail.
We’ll overrun the rulers here
and then it will be us who will decide
just who to forgive and not forgive.

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About the translation:
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Constantine Cavafy
Ian Parks
Original language:
2016 Number 3 - The Blue Vein

About the author

Constantine Cavafy

Original poet

Constantine Cavafy

Constantine P. Cavafy, also known as Konstantin or Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis, or Kavaphes (GreekΚωνσταντίνος Π. Καβάφης) (Ap...

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Ian Parks

IAN PARKS’ collections include Shell Island, The Landing Stage, and The Exile’s House. He was writer in residence at Gladstone...

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