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.