Che Fece ... Il Gran Refiuto

By C. P. Cavafy 1863–1933

Translated By Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

For some people the day comes
when they have to declare the great Yes
or the great No. It’s clear at once who has the Yes
ready within him; and saying it,

he goes from honor to honor, strong in his conviction.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
he’d still say no. Yet that no—the right no—
drags him down all his life.

Constantine Cavafy, “Che Fece ... Il Gran Refiuto,” translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard, from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems. Copyright © 1975 by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Reprinted with the permission of Princeton University Press.

Source: C. P. Cavafy: Selected Poems (Princeton University Press, 1975)

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Poet C. P. Cavafy 1863–1933

POET’S REGION Greece

Subjects Religion, Faith & Doubt, Living, Disappointment & Failure, The Spiritual

Occasions Graduation

 C. P. Cavafy

Biography

C. P. Cavafy is widely considered the most distinguished Greek poet of the twentieth century. He was born in 1863 in Alexandria, Egypt, where his Greek parents had settled in the mid-1850s. Cavafy’s father was an importer-exporter whose business responsibilities frequently led him to the port city of Liverpool, England. Cavafy’s father died in 1870, and the business he left in Alexandria proved insufficiently profitable for . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Faith & Doubt, Living, Disappointment & Failure, The Spiritual

POET’S REGION Greece

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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