Forty two poems – CP Kavafy


THE great poet of Alexandria, CP Kavafy, from a Greek merchant family, has had selected short works translated into English. Nothing new in that but this time out, the person taking the genius of Kavafy to pen is a countryman living in Quin, Kostas Wootis.

An architect by profession, with respect to published works Kostas Wootis is the man behind the beautifully scripted annual programme to Killaloe Chamber Music Festival.

‘Forty two poems by Kavafy’ emerged late last year, reviving the mythologies, erotic imagination and indeed, true life of the writer/ clerk Kavafy was. Whilst there has been a string of translations over the 20th century, interestingly, Wootis is following in Kafavy’s tradition of selecting his readers – this tasty volume is not for sale.

Kafavy lived over a brothel and used to present people he admired and young lovers with sheafs of poems printed on broadsheet or bound in folders. He refused to be published in his lifetime, even while dedicating latter years to his craft.

‘Forty two poems’ is not the first work in the Mid West inspired by Kavafy. Ten years ago visual artist Gavin Hogg and poet Paul Sweeney brought out a leather-linen bound tome, ‘The City’, that references their shared interest in his works and philosophies. On vellum, original prints by Hogg illustrated Sweeney’s words and themes derived from the literature as well as the Limerick men’s individual regard for what a city is, does, holds.

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Back to ‘Forty two poems’, words by Kostas Wootis:


Like beautiful dead bodies of those perished/ Without getting old, and they were closed,/ with tears, in a splendid mausoleum/ with roses on their head, jasmine at feet -/ so the desires appear that have passed/ without fulfilment; not one of them attaining/ a night of pleasure or a morning bathed with light.