Constantine P. Cavafy (1863–1933) was a Greek poet who lived in Egypt nearly his entire life. He is regarded the most eminent Greek poet of the twentieth century.
Cavafy was born to Greek parents in Alexandria, Egypt. When he was nine, his family relocated to Liverpool, where they stayed for five years before returning to Alexandria. He spent three teenage-years in Constantinople (now Istanbul) where he started writing poems and discovered the homosexual orientation that would inform his later poetry.
At age 26, Cavafy got a job as an unpaid clerk at Alexandria’s Irrigation Office, and he remained there until he retired 30 years later. All through his lifetime, Cavafy was an obscure poet and lived in relative isolation. One of his few friends was the British novelist E. M. Forster.
Cavafy wrote 154 poems on various subjects—art, travel, and politics,—but he’s particularly identified with his poems on the theme of homosexual love. He refused to have his poems formally published. He printed them himself in pamphlets and shared them with friends, family, and anyone interested—even with local newspapers and magazines. He wrote most of his principal poems after his fortieth birthday, most of which weren’t published until two years after his death.