i needed to see your lips

vintage handsome gay man circa 1910

I never had you, nor will I have you
ever, I daresay. A couple of words, a closeness
as in the bar two days ago, and nothing else.
It is, I don’t deny it, a pity. But we who belong to Art
sometimes — with intensity of mind, and of course only
for a little while — create a pleasure
that gives the impression of being almost real.
So it was in the bar two days ago — with a good deal of help,
besides, from some merciful alcohol —
I had half an hour that was utterly erotic.
And it seems to me you understood,
and you stayed somewhat longer purposely.
It was rather necessary, that. Because
for all the imagination, for all the liquor’s a magician,
I needed to see your lips as well,
needed to have your body close to me.

Text: Half an Hour, 1917, unpublished poem
from C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems, translated by Daniel Mendelsohn
Image: photographer, subject unknown, via exupery/ipernity

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  1. Stephen

    Just came across your site. Just terrific. The Thom Gunn poem broke my heart. Since I’ve lived with the same man for 40 years it touched a nerve as you might imagine. Thanks.

    Posted May 15, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Permalink
  2. Charlotte

    You have a singularly lovely blog, I love the juxtaposition of text and words. They do succeed in creating an imagined history that feels quite real.

    Posted May 22, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Permalink
  3. @Stephen and @Charlotte,
    thank you both for your kind words. it’s wonderful to know that woolf & wilde touches people.
    x kenneth

    Posted June 6, 2010 at 11:01 am | Permalink
  4. Roger Walker

    Please post some more. You have touched me in so many ways with your images and the accompanying texts. Both my lovers are dead, and these pages remind me of feelings I once had which have been dormant for years. They make me want to awaken.

    Posted May 12, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

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