I'm working on an essay called "Cavafy's Rooms," a reading of a number of poems of the great Greek/Alexandrian poet's which define spaces of privacy and intimacy. In the process, I've been reading lots of Cavafy, and it's a pleasure to find poems I hadn't known yet. Daniel Mendelsohn's forthcoming translation is a trove of these, and here's one. This is a totally unexpected poem, coming from the dry, worldly, ironic master; were it posted here without a name, I don't think anyone would guess Cavafy. It makes me think of Robinson Jeffers and "The Housedog's Grave (Haig, an English Bulldog)" another poem where animal presence brings forth an unexpectedly sweet-tempered warmth.
HOUSE WITH GARDEN (1917)
I wanted to have a house in the country
with a very large garden -- not so much
for the flowers, the trees, and the greenery
(certainly there will be that, too; it's so lovely)
but for me to have animals. Ah to have animals!
Seven cats at least -- two completely black,
and for contrast, two white as snow.
A parrot, quite substantial, so I can listen to him
saying things with emphasis and conviction.
As for dogs, I do believe that three will be enough.
I should like two horses, too (ponies are nice).
And absolutely, three or four of those remarkable,
those genial animals, donkeys,
to sit around lazily, to rejoice in their well-being.