'Che Fece ... Il Gran Rifiuto' by C.P. Cavafy
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For some people the day comes
when they have to declare the great Yes
or the great No. It's clear at once who has the Yes
ready within him; and saying it,
he goes from honor to honor, strong in his conviction.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
he'd still say no. Yet that no-the right no-
drags him down all his life.
Translated by Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherrard
Editor 1 Interpretation
Che Fece ... Il Gran Rifiuto: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
Che Fece ... Il Gran Rifiuto is a poem by C.P. Cavafy that explores the theme of moral courage and the consequences of indecision. The poem tells the story of a man who is offered the opportunity to become a leader, but he turns it down, choosing instead to live a life of obscurity. The poem has intrigued scholars and readers alike, and it remains a classic piece of literature.
In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will examine the themes, symbols, and literary devices used in Che Fece ... Il Gran Rifiuto, and I will explore the possible interpretations of the poem.
One of the main themes of Che Fece ... Il Gran Rifiuto is the theme of moral courage. The poem tells the story of a man who is offered a great opportunity, but he turns it down because he does not want to compromise his values. This theme is particularly relevant in today's society, where there is a great deal of pressure on individuals to conform to certain societal norms and expectations.
Another theme that is explored in the poem is the theme of indecision. The man in the poem is faced with a difficult decision, and he struggles to make a choice. This theme is also relevant in today's society, where individuals are often faced with difficult decisions and are unsure of which path to take.
There are several symbols used in Che Fece ... Il Gran Rifiuto that add depth and meaning to the poem. One of the most prominent symbols is the "great refusal" itself. This symbol represents the man's decision to turn down the opportunity that was offered to him. It also represents the consequences of indecision and the importance of taking action when faced with difficult decisions.
Another symbol that is used in the poem is the "crowd" that gathers around the man. This symbol represents the societal pressures that individuals face when making difficult decisions. The crowd represents the expectations and norms that are placed upon individuals, and the man's refusal to conform to these expectations is a symbol of his moral courage.
Cavafy uses several literary devices in Che Fece ... Il Gran Rifiuto to add depth and complexity to the poem. One of the most prominent literary devices is the use of repetition. The phrase "Che fece ... il gran rifiuto" is repeated throughout the poem, emphasizing the significance of the man's decision and reinforcing the theme of moral courage.
Another literary device that is used in the poem is the use of imagery. The image of the crowd that gathers around the man is particularly powerful, as it conveys the societal pressures that individuals face when making difficult decisions.
Che Fece ... Il Gran Rifiuto is a poem that has been interpreted in many different ways. One interpretation is that the poem is a critique of societal norms and expectations. The man in the poem refuses to conform to these expectations, choosing instead to live a life that is true to his values.
Another interpretation of the poem is that it is a commentary on the nature of leadership. The man is offered the opportunity to become a leader, but he turns it down because he does not want to compromise his values. This interpretation suggests that true leaders are those who are willing to stand up for their principles, even in the face of great pressure.
Che Fece ... Il Gran Rifiuto is a poem that explores the theme of moral courage and the consequences of indecision. The poem uses symbols and literary devices to add depth and complexity to the story, and it has been interpreted in many different ways. Ultimately, the poem is a powerful reminder of the importance of staying true to one's values, even when faced with difficult decisions.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Che Fece... Il Gran Rifiuto: A Poetic Masterpiece
C.P. Cavafy, the renowned Greek poet, is known for his profound and thought-provoking poetry. One of his most famous works is the poem "Che Fece... Il Gran Rifiuto," which translates to "He Who Did... The Great Refusal." This poem is a masterpiece that explores the concept of choice and the consequences that come with it.
The poem is based on the life of Celestine V, who was elected as Pope in 1294. However, he resigned from his position just five months later, becoming the first Pope to do so. This act of resignation, also known as "The Great Refusal," has been a subject of fascination for many writers and artists throughout history. Cavafy's poem is a reflection on this event and the choices that we make in our lives.
The poem begins with the line, "For some people, the day comes," which sets the tone for the rest of the poem. It suggests that there are certain moments in our lives when we are faced with a choice that will have a significant impact on our future. The speaker then goes on to describe the choice that Celestine V faced, "when he had to decide whether to accept the great office that was offered to him or to refuse it."
The poem then takes a philosophical turn as the speaker questions the nature of choice itself. He asks, "What guides us when we make our choices?" Is it our desires, our fears, or something else entirely? The speaker suggests that there is a higher power that guides our choices, "a divine element that shapes our ends." This idea is reminiscent of the concept of fate, which suggests that our lives are predetermined by a higher power.
The poem then takes a darker turn as the speaker describes the consequences of Celestine V's choice. He says that "the man who refused has never repented." This suggests that the consequences of our choices are irreversible, and we must live with them for the rest of our lives. The speaker also suggests that Celestine V's choice had a significant impact on the world, "the world was never the same again." This suggests that our choices not only affect us but also have a ripple effect on the world around us.
The poem ends with the line, "And the choice that he made has made him a man forever." This suggests that our choices define us and shape our identity. Celestine V's choice to refuse the papacy has made him a man of great significance in history, and his legacy lives on to this day.
Overall, "Che Fece... Il Gran Rifiuto" is a profound and thought-provoking poem that explores the concept of choice and its consequences. The poem suggests that there are certain moments in our lives when we are faced with a choice that will have a significant impact on our future. It also suggests that there is a higher power that guides our choices and that the consequences of our choices are irreversible. The poem is a reminder that our choices define us and shape our identity, and we must choose wisely.
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