'Addition' by C.P. Cavafy

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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.

Editor 1 Interpretation


Addition is a classic poem written by C.P. Cavafy, a Greek poet who is widely regarded as one of the most important figures of modern Greek literature. The poem was first published in 1917 and has since become one of Cavafy's most popular works. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will analyze the themes, imagery, and symbolism present in Addition, and how they contribute to the overall meaning of the poem.

The Poem

Before we delve into the analysis of the poem, let's take a look at the text itself.

My friend, the young man with the strong body,
loved me as much as I loved him.
We were equal companions.

Yet now he's lost, gone to the city of pleasure,
while I, who long to see him,
am here in this provincial town.

How much better it would have been
if we'd died at the same time,
loving each other equally so that,
in a single moment, we could have stopped living together.


One of the main themes present in Addition is the loss of a loved one. The narrator of the poem laments the fact that his friend, the "young man with the strong body," has left him and gone to the city of pleasure. The poem explores the pain of separation and the longing for companionship.

Another theme that is present in the poem is the idea of equality in love. The narrator emphasizes that he and his friend were "equal companions" and loved each other equally. This concept of equality is important to the overall meaning of the poem because it emphasizes the depth of the narrator's loss.


Cavafy uses several images throughout the poem to convey the themes present. The first image that we encounter is that of the "young man with the strong body." This image emphasizes the physicality of the narrator's relationship with his friend. The strength of the young man's body represents the physical closeness that the two friends shared.

The image of the "city of pleasure" is another important one. This image represents the lure of the material world and the temptation to leave behind what is familiar and comfortable. The fact that the narrator's friend has gone to this city emphasizes the theme of loss and separation.

Finally, the image of the two friends dying together is a powerful one. This image emphasizes the intensity of the narrator's love for his friend and the desire to be united with him even in death.


Cavafy uses symbolism in Addition to convey deeper meanings. One of the most important symbols in the poem is the idea of the "provincial town." This symbol represents the narrator's sense of isolation and loneliness. The fact that he is stuck in this town while his friend is off in the city of pleasure emphasizes his sense of loss and longing.

Another symbol in the poem is the idea of dying together. This symbol represents the desire for unity and companionship, even in death. It emphasizes the intensity of the narrator's love for his friend and the depth of his loss.


In conclusion, Addition is a powerful poem that explores the themes of loss, separation, and the desire for unity. Cavafy uses imagery and symbolism to convey these themes, and the result is a poem that is both emotionally resonant and intellectually stimulating. Despite being over 100 years old, the poem's themes and ideas are still relevant today, and it continues to be a beloved work of modern Greek literature.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Addition by C.P. Cavafy: A Poem of Love and Longing

C.P. Cavafy is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, known for his unique style and themes of love, longing, and nostalgia. His poem "Addition" is a perfect example of his mastery of language and his ability to convey complex emotions through simple yet powerful imagery.

The poem begins with the speaker addressing his lover, telling her that he has added her to his life like a precious gem. He compares her to a "jewel" that he has found and cherished, and says that she has become an essential part of his existence. The language is simple and direct, but the emotion behind it is palpable.

As the poem progresses, the speaker goes on to describe the ways in which his lover has changed his life. He says that she has brought him "new life" and "new joy," and that he feels like a different person because of her. He speaks of the "sweetness" and "tenderness" that she has brought into his life, and how he cannot imagine living without her.

The imagery in the poem is strikingly beautiful, with the speaker comparing his lover to a "flower" that has bloomed in his heart. He speaks of her as a "light" that has illuminated his life, and says that he feels like he is "walking on air" when he is with her. The language is poetic and evocative, painting a vivid picture of the speaker's emotions and the depth of his love.

One of the most powerful aspects of the poem is the way in which it captures the feeling of longing and yearning that often accompanies love. The speaker says that he cannot bear to be apart from his lover, and that he longs for her "day and night." He speaks of the "pain" and "anguish" that he feels when they are apart, and how he counts the minutes until they can be together again.

The poem is also notable for its use of repetition, with the phrase "I have added" repeated throughout. This repetition serves to emphasize the importance of the speaker's lover in his life, and to reinforce the idea that she is an essential part of his existence.

Overall, "Addition" is a beautiful and moving poem that captures the essence of love and longing in a simple yet powerful way. Cavafy's mastery of language and imagery is on full display here, and the poem is a testament to his skill as a poet. It is a timeless work that speaks to the universal experience of love and the profound impact that it can have on our lives.

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