Ideal and beloved voices
of the dead or those who
for us are lost like the dead.
At times they talk in our dreams;
at times our minds hear them when in thought.
And with their sound, for a moment, echoes
return from the first poetry of our lives—
like distant music, at night, that slowly fades away.
Ιδανικές φωνές κι αγαπημένες
εκείνων που πεθάναν, η εκείνων που είναι
για μας χαμένοι σαν τους πεθαμένους
Κάποτε μες τα όνειρα μας ομιλούνε
κάποτε μες τη σκέψη τες ακούει το μυαλό
Και με τον ήχο των για μια στιγμή επιστρέφουν
ήχοι από την πρώτη ποίηση της ζωής μας —
σα μουσική, την νύχτα, μακρινή, που σβύνει.
The days of the future stand in front of us
like a line of lit candles—
golden, warm, and lively little candles.
The days of the past remain behind,
a sorrowful line of burned out candles;
the closest ones are still smoking,
cold candles, melted, and drooping.
I don’t want to look at them; their shape saddens me,
and it saddens me to remember their previous light.
I look ahead at my lit candles.
I don’t want to look back and see in horror
how fast the dark line lengthens,
how quickly the burned out candles multiply.
Του μέλλοντος η μέρες στέκοντ’ εμπροστά μας
σα μια σειρά κεράκια αναμένα—
χρυσά, ζεστά, και ζωηρά κεράκια.
Η περασμένες μέρες πίσω μένουν,
μια θλιβερή γραμμή κεριών σβυσμένων
τα πιο κοντά βγάζουν κανπνόν ακόμη,
κρύα κεριά, λυωμένα, και κυρτά
Δεν θέλω να τα βλέπω με λυπεί η μορφή των
και με λυπεί το πρώτο φως των να θυμούμαι.
Εμπρός κυττάζω τ’ αναμένα μου κεριά
Δεν θέλω να γυρίσω να μην διω και φρίξω
τί γρήγορα που η σκοτεινή γραμμή μακραίνει
τί γρήγορα που τα σβυστά κεριά πληθαίνουν.
‘I am from Constantinople by descent, but I was born in Alexandria— at a house on Seriph Street; I left at a young age and spent many of years of my childhood in England. I visited that country later on as an adult although for a short period of time. I also lived in France. During my adolescence I lived in Constantinople for about two years. I haven’t visited Greece for long time. My last employment was as a clerk at a Government office under the Ministry of Public works of Egypt. I speak English, French, and some Italian.’
This auto-biographical note of Constantine P. Cavafy or Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis, (Κωνσταντίνος Πέτρου Καβάφης), published in 1924 in the celebratory issue of the magazine New Art, may be supplemented with the following.
Cavafy was born on April 17/29th of 1863. Son of a family of merchants, he had eight older siblings all of whom died before him. Two of his brothers were painters, and another wrote poems in English and French; a cousin of his translated Shakespeare.
His father died in 1870 leaving the family in difficult financial position. Cavafy’s mother moved the family to England, where the two eldest sons took over their father’s business. However, their inexperience caused the ruin of the family fortunes and they returned to Alexandria. But the few years that Cavafy spent in England shaped his poetic sensibility and he became so comfortable with the second language that he wrote his first poems in English.
After the brief time he spent in England he moved with his mother to Constantinople where he lived with his grandfather; his stay here was brief and he arrived in Alexandria in 1879. Although they lived in great poverty and discomfort, he wrote his first poems during this period. After working for short periods for the Alexandrian Newspaper and the Egyptian Stock Exchange, at the age of twenty-nine Cavafy took up an appointment as a special clerk in the Irrigation Service of the Ministry of public works, a position he held for the next thirty years. Much of his young ambition during those years was devoted to writing poems and prose essays.
Constantine Cavafy had a very small circle of people around him. He lived with his mother until her death in 1899, and after that with his unmarried brothers. For much of his adult life he lived alone. Influential relationships included his twenty-year acquaintance with E.M. Forster.
Cavafy had one long lasting friendship with Alexander Singopoulos, whom Cavafy designated as his heir and literary executor when he was sixty years old, ten years before his death.
Cavafy remained virtually unknown in Greece until late in his career. He was introduced to the mainland Greek literary circles through a favorable review written by the well known Greek writer Xenopoulos in 1903; however, he got little recognition since his writing style was different from the mainstream Greek poetry of the time. Some twenty years later, after the war of 1919-1923 between Greece and Turkey, a new generation of poets such as Karyotakis would find some inspiration in Cavafy’s work.
It is generally accepted that Cavafy was a homosexual and themes of gay relationships appear in a number of his poems; indeed there is hardly any reference to a woman or a kore, as in Elytis’ works where the kore is a predominant sensual image. In Cavafy, we find numerous sensual references to young men or ephebes, all in their early twenties.
Since his death his reputation has grown and now he is considered one of the finest Greek poets; his work has been published again and again and is taught in schools in Greece, and in colleges and universities throughout the world. A film about his life was produced in Greece in 1996.
He is considered one of the most influential poets of modern Greece and along with Palamas, Kalvos, Seferis, Elytis, Egonopoulos and Ritsos he was instrumental in the revival and recognition of Greek poetry both in Greece and abroad.
His first published poem was printed for the magazine Hesperos in 1886. After that he kept publishing his poems in various magazines in Alexandria and Athens, as well as in some private editions of his friends. He also published articles and philosophical diatribes in newspapers and magazines of Leipsia, Constantinople, Alexandria and Athens.
In 1926, the military government of Pangalos, after a submission by G. Haritakis, awarded him the “Silver Medal of Phoenix”. The same year the periodical Alexandrian Art was launched under his guidance.
After his death a collection of 154 poems was published under the care of his executor Alexander Singopoulos and his then wife Rica, and with the collaboration of the painter Takis Kalmouchos. Since 1948 “Ikaros” has been the publisher of Cavafy’s works in Greece.
The first official presentation of Cavafy in Greece was in the Hellinika Grammata by Gregory Xenopoulos in 1903. At the same time the English writer E. M. Forster was the first one to introduce the poet to international readers.
Cavafy’s poems have been translated into just about all the European languages, and the majority of his more mature poetic creations have been translated and published from 1951 to 1980: twice in English, twice in French, once in German, and once in Italian.
He died of cancer of the larynx on April 29, 1933, on his seventieth birthday, in Alexandria.
In Canada, the most valuable work on Cavafy has been created by Greek Canadian Poet Manolis by translating and publishing a selection of poems in Constantine P. Cavafy – Poems.
Biography of translator Manolis Aligizakis
Manolis (Emmanuel Aligizakis) is a Greek-Canadian poet and author. He is the most prolific writer-poet of the Greek diaspora. At the age of eleven he transcribed the nearly 500 year old romantic poem Erotokritos, now released in a limited edition of 100 numbered copies and made available at 5,000 dollars Canadian: the most expensive book of its kind to this day. He was recently appointed an honorary instructor and fellow of the International Arts Academy, and awarded a Master’s for the Arts in Literature. He is recognized for his ability to convey images and thoughts in a rich and evocative way that tugs at something deep within the reader. Born in the village of Kolibari on the island of Crete in 1947, he moved with his family at a young age to Thessaloniki and then to Athens, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Sciences from the Panteion University of Athens. After graduation, he served in the armed forces for two years and emigrated to Vancouver in 1973, where he worked as an iron worker, train labourer, taxi driver, and stock broker, and studied English Literature at Simon Fraser University. He has written three novels and numerous collections of poetry, which are steadily being released as published works. His articles, poems and short stories in both Greek and English have appeared in various magazines and newspapers in Canada, United States, Sweden, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Australia, Jordan, Serbia and Greece. His poetry has been translated into Spanish, Romanian, Swedish, German, Hungarian, Arabic, Turkish, Serbian, Russian languages and has been published in book form or in magazines in various countries. He now lives in White Rock, where he spends his time writing, gardening, traveling, and heading Libros Libertad, an unorthodox and independent publishing company which he founded in 2006 with the mission of publishing literary books. His translation book “George Seferis-Collected Poems” was shortlisted for the Greek National Literary Awards the highest literary recognition of Greece.
~Distinguished Poet and Writer Award, City of Richmond, BC, 2014
~1st Poetry Prize, International Arts Academy for this translation of “Yannis Ritsos- Selected Poems”, 2014
~Winner of the Dr. Asha Bhargava Memorial Award, Writers International Network Canada, 2014
~“George Seferis-Collected Poems” translated by Manolis, shortlisted for the Greek National Literary Awards, translation category.
~1st Poetry Prize, International Arts Academy, for his translation of “George Seferis-Collected Poems”, 2013
~Master of the Arts in Literature, International Arts Academy, 2013
~1st Prize for poetry, 7th Volos poetry Competition, 2012
~Honorary instructor and fellow, International Arts Academy, 2012
~2nd Prize for short story, Interartia festival, 2012
~2nd Prize for Poetry, Interartia Festival, 2012
~2nd Prize for poetry, Interartia Festival, 2011
~3rd Prize for short stories, Interartia Festival, 2011
BOOKS by MANOLIS
Chthonian Bodies, paintings by Ken Kirkby and poems by Manolis Aligizakis, Libros Libertad, 2015
Images of Absence, poetry, Ekstasis Editions, 2015
Autumn Leaves, poetry, Ekstasis Editions, 2014
Übermensch/Υπεράνθρωπος, poetry, Ekstasis Editions, 2013
Mythography, paintings and poems, Libros Libertad, 2012
Nostos and Algos, poetry, Ekstasis Editions, 2012
Vortex, poetry, Libros Libertad, 2011
The Circle, novel, Libros Libertad, 2011
Vernal Equinox, poetry, Ekstasis Editions, 2011
Opera Bufa, poetry, Libros Libertad, 2010
Vespers, paintings and poems, Libros Libertad, 2010
Triptych, poetry, Ekstasis Editions, 2010
Nuances, poetry, Ekstasis Editions, 2009
Rendition, poetry, Libros Libertad, 2009
Impulses, poetry, Libros Libertad, 2009
Troglodytes, poetry, Libros Libertad, 2008
Petros Spathis, novel, Libros Libertad, 2008
El Greco, poetry, Libros Libertad, 2007
Path of Thorns, poetry, Libros Libertad, 2006
Footprints in Sandstone, poetry, Authorhouse, Bloomington, Indiana, 2006
The Orphans, poetry, Authorhouse, Bloomington, Indiana, 2005
TRANSLATIONS by MANOLIS
Hours of the Stars, poetry by Dimitris Liantinis, translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Libros Libertad, 2015
Hear Me Out, short stories, by Tzoutzi Mantzourani, translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Libros Libertad, 2015
Caressing Myths, poetry by Dina Georgantopoulos, translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Libros libertad, 2015
Idolaters, a novel by Joanna Frangia, translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Libros Libertad, 2014
Tasos Livaditis-Selected Poems, translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Libros Libertad, 2014
Yannis Ritsos-Selected Poems, translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Ekstasis Editions, 2013
Cloe and Alexandra-Selected Poems, translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Libros Libertad, 2013
George Seferis-Collected Poems, translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Libros Libertad, 2012
Yannis Ritsos-Poems, translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Libros Libertad, 2010
Constantine P. Cavafy – Poems, translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Libros Libertad, 2008
Cavafy-Selected Poems, translated by Manolis Aligizakis, Ekstasis Editions, 2011
BOOKS in OTHER LANGUAGES
A Fogoly, (Hungarian), a novel by Manolis Aligizakis (English publication with the title “Petros Spathis”), translated into Hungarian by Karoly Csiby, AB-ART, Slovakia, 2015
Άσματα του Παραλόγου, (Greek), poetry, ENEKEN, Salonika, Greece, 2015
Εικόνες Απουσίας, (Greek) poetry, Sexpirikon, Salonika, Greece, 2015
Oszi Falevelek, (Hungarian), poetry by Manolis Aligizakis, translated into Hungarian by Karoly Csiby, Gyp, Hungary, 2015
Svest, (Serbian), poetry by Manolis Aligizakis, translated into Serbian by Jolanka Kovacs, Serbia, 2015
Eszmelet, (Hungarian), poetry by Manolis Aligizakis, translated into Hungarian by Karoly Csiby, AB-ART, Bratislava, Slovakia, 2014
Ιερόδουλες, (Greek), poetry, Sexpirikon, Salonika, Greece, 2014
Υπεράνθρωπος, (Greek), poetry, ENEKEN, Salonika, Greece, 2014
Übermensch (German), poetry by Manolis Aligizakis, translated into German by Eniko Thiele Csekei, WINDROSE, Austria, 2014
Nostos si Algos, (Romanian) poetry by Manolis Aligizakis, translated into Romanian by Lucia Gorea, DELLART, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 2013
Τολμηρές Ανατάσεις, (Greek) poetry, GAVRIILIDIS EDITIONS, Athens, Greece, 2013
Φυλλορροές, (Greek) poetry, ENEKEN PUBLICATIONS, Salonika, Greece, 2013
Εαρινή Ισημερία, (Greek) poetry, ENEKEN PUBLICATIONS, Salonika, Greece, 2011
Στρατής Ρούκουνας, (Greek) novel, MAVRIDIS EDITIONS, Athens, Greece, 1981
Erotokritos, by Vitsentzos Kornaros, (rare book-collectible), transcribed by Manolis Aligizakis, Libros Libertad, 2015