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A Half-hour

C.P. Cavafy

I never had you and no doubt I never

will. A few words, an approach

like at the bar two days ago – nothing more. For me,

I must admit, I’m sorry. But we others,

the Art’s adepts, by force of concentration, can create

fleetingly, sometimes, a pleasure

that impresses one by being almost concrete.

Thus, in the bar, two days ago, with alcohol

helping me greatly in its kindly fashion,

that half-hour was for me profoundly erotic.

It seemed to me you understood, and deliberately

you lingered just a little. Now, what was there

was something very necessary, for, with all

possible fantasy and the magic of alcohol,

I had to see your lips as well,

I had to have your body near.

Translated from Greek by by D.M. Black. From Modern Poetry in Translation, New Series no. 18, 2001 

Poems by C P Cavafy (1863-1933) appeared in MPT 13, where the translators – David Ricks, Avi Sharon and George Kalogeris – simply stated that he “needs no introduction”.

DM Black’s translations from Goethe appeared in MPT 13 and 16.