Poetry for the weekend – Konstantinos Kavafis

Kavafis ITHAKA in EThe ONASSIS FOUNDATION supports and promotes K. Kavafis’ work, aiming at spreading knowledge to a wider public. It consists of manuscripts of poems, hand-compiled printed editions, prose works, articles, studies and notes by the poet.
The digital collection invites you to discover all this, along with Kavafis’ personal archive consisting of correspondence, texts, and photographs.

About Kavafis 

Many of you might remember Konstantinos Kavafis’ poem Ithaca from your schooldays.
In 1911, Kavafi wrote Ithaca, inspired by the return journey of Odysseus to his home island, as depicted in the Odyssey: “Keep Ithaka always in your mind.  Arriving there is what you’re destined for….”.
The traveller should set out on his journey with hope, and at the end he may find Ithaca has no more riches to give him, but “Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey”.

The Greek poet Konstantinos Kavafis – Kωνσταντίνος Πέτρου Καβάφης – (1863 to 1933), lived mainly in Alexandria, Egypt, where his Greek parents had settled in the mid 1850s
The seven years that Kavafis spent in England, between the ages of nine and sixteen, were important in shaping his poetic sensibility and developed a preference for the writings of W. Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde.

The themes of his poetry were philosophy, history and the erotic – subjects which he combines in his poems in a fascinating way.
He was a poet in a time of transition between Hellenic ideals and a modern, spiritual new beginning.

Kavafis was a constant enquirer all his lifetime, he understood the contradictions of human existence, the decadence of bourgeois morality and the dubiousness of prevailing historiography. Unfortunately his brilliant work only received appreciation after his death, which shows his epoch-transcending relevance.

Hardly any other poet makes it clear to us how much (futile) hope we actually put in our memories, how much we cling to it, how much longing we still apply to these things that have long passed.

One of Kavafis’ poems:

“As much as you can”

Even if you cannot live your life as you wanted to,

at least try this

as much as you can; do not humiliate it

into the affinity of the world

into the gestures and the conversations.

Do not humiliate it by bringing it,

by hanging around and exposing it,

to the daily stupity

of the realtions and the interactions,

til it becomes a strange and obtrusive one.

42 Poems by Kavafi in Greek and English

Two great men – K. P. Kavafi and Sean Connery, the latter reciting Kavafi’s “Ithaca”, music by Vangelis.

Vienna Chamber Music Orchestra, G. Dalaras singing poems of C. Cavafy at the Concert House in Vienna in November 2011 – part of the Cavafy Project.


Source: Onassis Foundation



I'm Austrian living in Tavronitis, love nature, music, good books, sunsets, the sea, travelling, socializing and more. I came to Crete as a student in the early 70s, exploring the west and southwest of the island with friends by motorbike. When you are young everything is important and, there are lots of things to do...I did. Job, family,children, travelling the world. But I never lost my love for Crete for a minute. And nine years ago I ended up in this convenient corner of Crete, not only for holidays, but to stay and haven't regretted it for a minute.