Up late, writing

…and the last line of this poem by Cavafy (trans. Keeley/Sherrard) came into my head.


My work, I’m very careful about it, and I love it.
But today I’m discouraged by how slowly it’s going.
The day has affected my mood.
It gets darker and darker. Endless wind and rain.
I’m more in the mood for looking than for writing.
In this picture, I’m now gazing at a handsome boy
who is lying down close to a spring,
exhausted from running.
What a handsome boy; what a heavenly noon
has caught him up in sleep.
I sit and gaze like this for a long time,
recovering through art from the effort of creating it.


It’s an old favourite, and I always love the circularity of the relief the poem brings even while it implies a complaint about the effort of its own creation and shows the writer in a long moment of delicious distraction. It shouldn’t work, but it deeply does.

Thanks to the official Cavafy archive for posting it up online.


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