Artificial Flowers by C.P. Cavavfy

Artificial Flowers

I do not want narcissuses that are real—nor do lilies
please me, nor do roses that are real.
The gardens they adorn are trite and common. To me
their flesh gives bitterness, weariness, and grief —
Their perishable beauties tire me.

Give me artificial blooms —the glories of porcelain and metal —
which shrivel not and do not rot, with forms that do not age.
Blooms of the exquisite gardens of another place,
where Theories and Rhythms dwell, and Knowledges.

The blooms I love are fashioned of glass or gold:
of a faithful Art, the faithful gifts;
dyed in colors more lovely than the natural,
worked with nacre and with enamel,
with idealized leaves and shoots.

They take their grace from Taste, most wise and pure;
in the earth they did not sprout, nor filthily in slime.
If they have no aroma, perfumes shall we pour,
and burn the incenses of sentiment before them.

The Complete Poems of C.P. Cavafy
Daniel Mendelsohn
HarperCollins Publishers

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