complete and utter abandonment

Two handsome guys, vintage gay photo, circa 1900

He was far too tasteful and far too clever,
a young man of very good society, too,
to make a fool of himself by acting as if he thought
that his abandonment was some great tragedy.
After all when his friend had said to him, “We two
will have love forever”– both the one who said it,
and the one who heard it, knew it for a cliché.
One night after the picture-show, and the ten
minutes they stayed at the bar, a longing
kindled in their eyes and in their blood
and they went off together, and someone said “forever.”

Anyway, their “forever” lasted three years.
Far too often it lasts for less.

He was far too elegant, and far too clever,
to take the matter tragically;
and far too beautiful — both face and body —
for his carnal vanity to be touched at all.


Image: Sitters, photographer, unknown, via Ipernity/Scumbeast
Text: Abandonment, C.P. Cavafy, 1930
from The Unfinished Poems, translated by Daniel Mendelsohn
Note: In Mendelson’s inspired piece of research, The Unfinished Poems,
he notes that Cavafy included the words “complete and utter”
alongside the word “abandonment” in his original draft.



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  1. Wow.

    Posted May 6, 2012 at 7:01 am | Permalink
  2. stephen

    Thanks. I don’t always comment but I do always value what you’re doing.

    Posted May 24, 2012 at 4:21 am | Permalink
  3. stephen

    As ever when I come here for solace from the screaming match that is most of the web I find something new and beautiful. Though I am slightly troubled by the hairline of the young man on the left I remind myself that I can look pretty scary, too. And why yes! I have just ordered Mendelsohn’s translations of Cavafy from Amazon. Thank you for asking.

    Perhaps the most poignant aspect of your lovely blog is the constantly repeated credit: Sitters, photographer, unknown.

    Posted June 4, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

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