C. P. Cavafy published “In the Evening" in Greek in 1917, the same year that T. S. Eliot’s Prufrock collection came out. I’m not actually drawing any parallels here, it’s just interesting to see what kinds of words were coming out of people around the same period. Here’s the last part of “In the Evening,” (trans. Stratis Haviaras) which I like a lot: 






An echo of those days came back to me,an impression of the youthful fervor we onceshared; I found and opened once again a letter,and read it, and read it again until the light was gone.
Sadly, then, I went out onto the balcony,wishing to amend my thoughts by observingeven the least bit of my beloved city,just a bit of activity in the streets, and in the shops. 






What I like most in Cavafy’s poems is how he treats memory and the city. The way streets and the sense of place get tied up in our experience of the past. The way we recall and rewrite memories when we walk in spaces that are still familiar to us in the present. The reconsolidation theory of memory explains a lot about that intuition and the biology behind it. But sometimes it’s nice to feel that idea through a poem rather than trying to get at it with messy neuroscience jargon.
(Painting by John French Sloan (1922) “The City from Greenwich Village,” No, I do not live in New York.)

C. P. Cavafy published “In the Evening" in Greek in 1917, the same year that T. S. Eliot’s Prufrock collection came out. I’m not actually drawing any parallels here, it’s just interesting to see what kinds of words were coming out of people around the same period. Here’s the last part of “In the Evening,” (trans. Stratis Haviaras) which I like a lot:
 

An echo of those days came back to me,
an impression of the youthful fervor we once
shared; I found and opened once again a letter,
and read it, and read it again until the light was gone.

Sadly, then, I went out onto the balcony,
wishing to amend my thoughts by observing
even the least bit of my beloved city,
just a bit of activity in the streets, and in the shops. 


What I like most in Cavafy’s poems is how he treats memory and the city. The way streets and the sense of place get tied up in our experience of the past. The way we recall and rewrite memories when we walk in spaces that are still familiar to us in the present. The reconsolidation theory of memory explains a lot about that intuition and the biology behind it. But sometimes it’s nice to feel that idea through a poem rather than trying to get at it with messy neuroscience jargon.

(Painting by John French Sloan (1922) “The City from Greenwich Village,” No, I do not live in New York.)

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