Cavafy is one of the most singular and poignant voices of twentieth-century European poetry, conjuring a magical world through lyrical evocations of remembered passions, imagined monologues and dramatic retellings of his native Alexandria's ancient past. Figures from antiquity speak with telling interruptions from the author in such poems as You did not understand, while precise moments of history are seen with a sense of foreboding, as in Ides of March and Nero's Deadline. And in poems that draw on his own life and surroundings, Cavafy recalls illicit trysts or glimpses of beautiful young men in One Night and The Café Entrance, and creates exquisite miniatures of everyday life in Of the Shop.
There are also poems about Alexandria at the turn of the 20th century, all with a yearning and longing for the past which is not sentimental. My favourite of these is An Old Man.
Finally, there are many about beautiful youths and forbidden passions, which are too repetitive for my taste.