Any description of Cavafy's work soon brings up one quality difficult to appreciate in translation: his mixture of colloquial and literary diction - long permissible in English, but revolutionary in early-20th-century Greek. A striking effect in the original, therefore, is neutralised by the lag between literary time zones. The most exotic words for an English reader are the proper nouns from Hellenic history and geography, often also the talismanic destinations of Cavafy's concluding sentences.
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