'Since Nine O'Clock' by C.P. Cavafy
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1911Half past twelve. Time has gone by quickly
since nine o'clock when I lit the lamp
and sat down here. I've been sitting without reading,
without speaking. Completely alone in the house,
whom could I talk to?Since nine o'clock when I lit the lamp
the shade of my young body
has come to haunt me, to remind me
of shut scented rooms,
of past sensual pleasure - what daring pleasure.
And it's also brought back to me
streets now unrecognizable,
bustling night clubs now closed,
theatres and cafes no longer here.The shade of my young body
also brought back the things that make us sad:
family grief, separations,
the feelings of my own people, feelings
of the dead so little acknowledged.Half past twelve. How the time has gone by.
Half past twelve. How the years have gone by.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Poetry, Since Nine O'Clock: A Critical Analysis
C.P. Cavafy is a celebrated Greek poet, who is known for his works that showcase his love for Alexandria, the city where he spent most of his life. Cavafy was not a prolific writer, and his works were not widely known or appreciated during his lifetime. However, after his death, his works gained popularity, and he became one of the most significant figures in modern Greek literature. One of his most famous poems is "Poetry, Since Nine O'Clock," which is the subject of this literary analysis.
"Poetry, Since Nine O'Clock" is a short poem, consisting of only 12 lines. The poem was written in 1919, and it reflects Cavafy's views on the role of poets in society. Here is the full text of the poem:
As soon as nine o'clock came you left your house for good, and went, as you had to, to the School. A great joyousness filled you because you were going to meet friends; and at the same time a bit of anxiety, a worry whether they'd recognize in you a slight deterioration of the spirit. You walked along, full of a gloomy thought concerning Literature, as you approached the School, that harsh stepmother of the spirit.
The primary theme of the poem is the role of poets in society. Cavafy, in this poem, talks about the struggles faced by a poet, who is trying to juggle his passion for poetry with his responsibilities towards society. The poem highlights the tension that exists between the two, where the poet is torn between his love for poetry and the practical demands of life.
The poem consists of three stanzas, with the first stanza setting the scene and the following two stanzas describing the poet's emotional state. The poem is written in a simple language, and the tone is reflective and introspective. The use of enjambment throughout the poem creates a sense of continuity and fluidity, which is a hallmark of Cavafy's style.
The poem is replete with images and metaphors that symbolize the poet's state of mind. The poet talks about the "harsh stepmother of the spirit," which represents the constraints of society that limit the poet's creativity. The image of the poet walking along, full of a "gloomy thought concerning Literature," highlights the weight of responsibility that the poet feels towards his craft. The use of the phrase "slight deterioration of the spirit" is a poignant reminder of the toll that societal expectations can take on a creative soul.
The tone of the poem is nostalgic and wistful, with a touch of sadness. The poet seems to be reflecting on a time in his life when he was still struggling to find his place in the world. The tone is also reflective of the poet's belief that the role of the poet is often overlooked and underappreciated in society.
The style of the poem is simple, yet profound. Cavafy's use of simple language and imagery creates a sense of intimacy with the reader. The poem is written in the first person, which adds to the personal and introspective nature of the poem. The use of enjambment throughout the poem creates a sense of continuity and fluidity, which is a hallmark of Cavafy's style.
"Poetry, Since Nine O'Clock" is a beautifully crafted poem that speaks to the struggles faced by poets in society. Cavafy's use of simple language and imagery creates a sense of intimacy with the reader, making the poem relatable and poignant. The poem is a reminder that the role of the poet is often overlooked and underappreciated in society, but despite this, the poet persists, driven by a love for poetry that cannot be tamed. Cavafy's poem is a tribute to the resilience of the creative spirit and a reminder of the importance of art in our lives.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Since Nine O'Clock: A Masterpiece of Modern Greek Poetry
C.P. Cavafy's "Poetry Since Nine O'Clock" is a masterpiece of modern Greek poetry that has captivated readers for over a century. Written in 1917, the poem is a reflection on the state of poetry in the modern world, and the challenges that poets face in creating meaningful and impactful works of art.
The poem begins with a description of the poet's surroundings, as he sits in his study late at night, surrounded by books and papers. The clock strikes nine, and the poet begins to reflect on the state of poetry in the modern world. He notes that poetry has lost its power to move and inspire, and that it has become a mere "pastime" for those who have nothing better to do.
The poet then goes on to describe the various challenges that poets face in the modern world. He notes that the world has become too complex and too fast-paced for poetry to keep up, and that poets are often too focused on their own personal experiences to create works that speak to a wider audience. He also notes that many poets are too concerned with form and structure, and that they have lost sight of the true purpose of poetry, which is to capture the essence of the human experience.
Despite these challenges, the poet remains optimistic about the future of poetry. He notes that there are still poets who are able to create works that are both beautiful and meaningful, and that these poets are the ones who will carry the torch of poetry into the future. He also notes that poetry has the power to transcend time and space, and that it will continue to inspire and move people for generations to come.
One of the most striking aspects of "Poetry Since Nine O'Clock" is its use of language and imagery. Cavafy's writing is both beautiful and evocative, and he is able to capture the essence of the human experience in a way that is both profound and moving. His use of metaphors and similes is particularly effective, as he is able to create vivid images that stay with the reader long after the poem has ended.
Another notable aspect of the poem is its structure. The poem is divided into three stanzas, each of which explores a different aspect of the state of poetry in the modern world. The first stanza sets the scene and establishes the tone of the poem, while the second stanza explores the challenges that poets face. The third stanza is the most optimistic, as the poet looks to the future and sees hope for the continued relevance of poetry.
Overall, "Poetry Since Nine O'Clock" is a masterpiece of modern Greek poetry that continues to resonate with readers today. Its themes of the challenges facing poets in the modern world, and the power of poetry to transcend time and space, are as relevant today as they were when the poem was first written. Cavafy's use of language and imagery is both beautiful and evocative, and his message of hope and optimism is one that we can all take to heart.
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