Thinking Walls: Reflections on a theme by C. P. Cavafy


  • Jen Harrison


In 1896 Constantine Cavaf)r wrote a poem encapsulating the experience of social isolation.

Most often this poem is interpreted as the homosexual's ostracism in 19th century Alexandria. But like most of Cavaf)r -and this is, of course, what makes him such a good poet, and what makes his poetry so translatable -this poem is not confined within the limits of its author. It expresses universal human experiences: of all of those deliberately cut off from society. This is a poem that could just as easily have been written today, by any one of millions of people in a whole range of shamefully isolating scenarios, across the globe. This paper will touch on just a few of these.