The City

By C. P. Cavafy 1863–1933

Translated By Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

You said: “I’ll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart lies buried like something dead.
How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I’ve spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally.”

You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
This city will always pursue you.
You’ll walk the same streets, grow old
in the same neighborhoods, turn gray in these same houses.
You’ll always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:
there’s no ship for you, there’s no road.
Now that you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you’ve destroyed it everywhere in the world.

C. P. Cavafy, "The City" from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Translation Copyright © 1975, 1992 by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Reproduced with permission of Princeton University Press

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

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Poet C. P. Cavafy 1863–1933

POET’S REGION Greece

Subjects Disappointment & Failure, Living, Time & Brevity, Growing Old

 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 Disappointment & Failure, Living, Time & Brevity, Growing Old

POET’S REGION Greece

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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