Lovely White Flowers The Canon
Print
He went inside the café where they used to go together.
It was here, three months ago, that his friend had told him:
Were completely brokethe two of us so poor
that were down to sitting in the cheapest places.
I have to tell you straight out
I cant go around with you any more.
I want you to know, somebody else is after me.
The somebody else had promised him two suits,
some silk handkerchiefs. To get his friend back,
he himself went through hell rounding up twenty pounds.
His friend came back to him for the twenty pounds
but along with that, for their old intimacy,
their old love, for the deep feeling between them.
The somebody else was a liar, a real bum:
hed ordered only one suit for his friend,
and that under pressure, after much begging.
 
But now he doesnt want the suits any longer,
he doesnt want the silk handkerchiefs at all,
or twenty pounds, or twenty piasters even.
 
Sunday they buried him, at ten in the morning.
Sunday they buried him, almost a week ago.
 
He laid flowers on his cheap coffin,
lovely white flowers, very much in keeping
with his beauty, his twenty-two years.
 
When he went to the café that evening
he happened to have some vital business therethe same café
where they used to go together: it was a knife in his heart,
that dingy café where they used to go together.

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)

- Original Greek Poem