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Constantine P. Cavafy

To Sensual Pleasure

My life's joy and incense: recollection of those hours
when I found and captured pleasure as I wanted it.
My life's joy and incense: that I refused
all indulgence in routine love affairs.

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Sensual Pleasures

My life's joy and incense: recollection of those hours
when I found and captured pleasure as I wanted it.
My life's joy and incense: that I refused
all indulgence in routine love affairs.

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I Went

I was not bound. I let myself go completely; went
To those indulgences, half actual,
And half were turned about in my own brain;
Went into the illuminated night;
And drank strong wines, as when
The champions of pleasure drink strong wine.

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When They Come Alive

Try to keep them, poet,
those erotic visions of yours,
however few of them there are that can be stilled.
Put them, half-hidden, in your lines.
Try to hold them, poet,
when they come alive in your mind
at night or in the noonday brightness.

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He vows

Every so often he vows to start a better life.
But when night comes with her own counsels,
with her compromises, and with her promises;
but when night comes with her own power
of the body that wants and demands, he returns,
forlorn, to the same fatal joy.

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Of what's to come the wise perceive things about to happen. Sometimes during moments of intense study their hearing’s troubled: the hidden sound of things approaching reaches them, and they listen reverently, while in the street outside the people hear nothing whatsoever.

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In the Same Space

Environment, of house, of city centres, city quarters
Which I look upon and where I walk; years and years.

I have created you in the midst of joy and in the midst of sorrows;
With so many circumstances, with so many things.

And you have been made sensation, the whole of you, for me.

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Longings

Like the beautiful bodies of those who died before growing old,
sadly shut away in sumptuous mausoleum,
roses by the head, jasmine at the feet -
so appear the longings that have passed
without being satisfied, not one of the granted
a single night of pleasure, or one of its radiant mornings.

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Addition

I do not question whether I am happy or unhappy.
Yet there is one thing that I keep gladly in mind --
that in the great addition (their addition that I abhor)
that has so many numbers, I am not one
of the many units there. In the final sum
I have not been calculated. And this joy suffices me.

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Return

Return often and take me,
beloved sensation, return and take me --
when the memory of the body awakens,
and an old desire runs again through the blood;
when the lips and the skin remember,
and the hands feel as if they touch again.

Return often and take me at night,
when the lips and the skin remember...

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