Home > Poetry > Since Nine O’Clock
Translated from the Greek by Theoharis C. Theoharis
Published: Thu Oct 15 1998
Wosene Worke Kosrof, The Inventor V (detail), 2022, acrylic on linen. Courtesy of Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara, California
Since Nine O’Clock

Translated from the Greek by Theoharis C. Theoharis

Half past twelve. The time has passed quickly
since nine when I lit the lamp,
and sat down here. I’ve sat without reading
and without speaking. With whom could I speak,
all alone in this house?

The specter of my young body,
from when I lit the lamp at nine,
has come and found me and reminded me
of closed-up, aromatic chambers,
and past sensual delight—what brazen pleasure!
And it has also placed directly in my sight
streets which have now become unrecognizable,
lovely, crowded nightclubs which have closed,
and theaters and cafes that existed, once.

The specter of my young body
came and also brought to me the source of sorrows:
the grief of familial life, separations,
feelings for those I came from and belong to,
feelings for the dead esteemed so slightly.

Half past twelve. How the time has passed.
Half past twelve. How the years have passed.


Constantine Cavafy (1863–1933) is considered by many to have been the premier Modern Greek poet.

Theoharis C. Theoharis teaches at Harvard and is the editor of the _Boston Book Review._He is the author of Joyce’s Ulysses: An Analysis of the Soul and Ibsen’s Drama: Right Action and Tragic Joy. He is finishing a new translation of all Cavafy’s poems. (1998)

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Constantine Cavafy (1863–1933) lived in Alexandria and is commonly considered the premier modern Greek poet.

Theoharis Constantine Theoharis is an Associate Professor in the Literature faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of _Joyce’s Ulysses: An Anatomy of the Soul _(U. of North Carolina Press, 1988), and editor of a  critical series forthcoming from Harvard University Press. (updated 1990)
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