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Two Young Men, 23 to 24 years old

Constantine P. Cavafy 1863 (Alexandria) – 1933 (Alexandria)



He'd been sitting in the cafe since ten-thirty
expecting him to turn up any minute.
Midnight had gone, and he was still waiting for him.
It was now after one-thirty, and the cafe was almost deserted.
He'd grown tired of reading newspapers
mechanically. Of his three lonely shillings
only one was left: waiting that long,
he'd spent the others on coffees and brandy.
And he'd smoked all his cigarettes.
So much waiting had worn him out.
Because alone like that for so many hours,
he'd also begun to have disturbing thoughts
about the immoral life he was living.
But when he saw his friend come in
weariness, boredom, thought all disappeared at once.
His friend brought unexpected news.
He'd won sixty pounds playing cards.
Their good looks, their exquisite youthfulness,
the sensitive love they shared
were refreshed, livened, invigorated
by the sixty pounds from the card table.
Now all joy and vitality, feeling and charm,
they went -not to the homes of their respectable families
(where they were no longer wanted anyway)-
they went to a familiar and very special
house of debauchery, and they asked for a bedroom
and expensive drinks, and they drank again.
And when the expensive drinks were finished
and it was close to four in the morning,
happy, they gave themselves to love.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Constantine P. Cavafy

Constantine P. Cavafy was a Greek poet who lived in Alexandria and worked as a journalist and civil servant. He published 154 poems; dozens more remained incomplete or in sketch form. His most important poetry was written after his fortieth birthday. more…

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    "Two Young Men, 23 to 24 years old" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 24 Jan. 2022. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/7277/two-young-men%2C-23-to-24-years-old>.

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