The book of canonical texts by the genius 20th century poet Constantine Cavafy (1863–1933), translated into Latvian by Dens Dimiņš, includes 153 poems, recognized by the author himself and published, as well as his last, 154th poem “In the Outskirts of Antioch”, published posthumously.
“Constantine P. Cavafy is one of the most influential Greek poets whose path to European readers has taken quite a time. He was born, lived and died in Alexandria, had spent some time in England, Constantinople and Athens.
His surprising, ironic and open explorations into eroticism, history and philosophy – the trinity that has always been part of the Greek language and culture – has significantly expanded the field of poetry comprehension.”
Cavafy called himself a “historical poet”, and his texts make an epic fresco of Hellenic culture and its decline. His voice, according to Joseph Brodsky, possesses “an implacable note of ennui” but at the same time also hedonistic stoicism and eroticism. Cavafy’s poetry is like a mosaic with each element being carefully polished, sometimes removed or replaced if the author thought it did not fit.
Literature specialist Ojārs Lāms writes in the introduction:
“After the interval of several centuries Cavafy makes the world listen againt to the voice of Greek lyrics. In terms of the colourfulness of imagery he can definitely be characterised as the most Grecian among Greek poets.”
The book is supplemented with an extensive index of persons, place names and realia, comprising data from ancient and Byzantine textual sources, as well as maps marking the geography of Cavafy’s poetry.