C.P. Cavafy: Bard Of A Lost Age

Ben Libman at Poetry Magazine:

Cavafy did not cut an imposing figure. His bearing—along with his poetry, his philosophy, and his historiographical perspective—might best be described as askew. Or, to borrow Forster’s now-famous line, he appeared as “a Greek gentleman in a straw hat, standing absolutely motionless at a slight angle to the universe.” In modern parlance, we would simply call Cavafy queer. This is meant in every sense of that term but especially in its now primary sense of homosexuality—a fact at the core of Cavafy’s effect on Forster’s worldview and his understanding of art. In the words of the critic Peter Mackridge, Alexandria’s modern poet laureate embodied and defended the idea that “‘perversion’ is ‘the source of greatness’” in art as in life.

Cavafy cultivated his homosexuality—its aesthetic potential and its epistemological power—in a city that, to his mind, had been the epicenter of gay sensuality going back to the time of Alexander. His poems were deeply erotic from the start, but after 1919, they unequivocally laid claim to homoeroticism.

more here.