“On the Ship,” a poem by Constantine P. Cavafy from our Spring 2005 issue. Cavafy was born on April 29, 1863; he died on his seventieth birthday.
It certainly resembles him, this small
pencil likeness of him.
Quickly done, on the deck of the ship;
an enchanting afternoon.
The Ionian Sea all around us.
It resembles him. Still, I remember him as handsomer.
To the point of sickness—he was that sensitive,
and it illumined his expression.
Handsomer, he appears to me,
now that my soul recalls him, out of Time.
Out of Time. All these things, they’re very old—
The sleuth, and the ship, and the afternoon
Translated from the Greek by Daniel Mendelsohn.