My brother sent me a link to a recording of Cavafy reading reading one of his most famous poems, Περιμένοντας τους βαρβάρους (“Waiting for the Barbarians”); you can get to it from this page, below the second picture, where it says “The simultaneous recording of Cavafy reading this poem cannot be heard with a Firefox browser, but can be heard independently by clicking here.” He sounds just as one might hope this most tonally complex of poets would sound, both majestic and gossipy. (There follows a translation by Anthony Weir which I don’t especially care for—”Because the Barbarians are expected today/ And the Emperor is waiting to welcome their Führer”? Come on now. Here’s the Edmund Keeley translation, and here’s the Keeley/Sherrard. But, to be fair, it’s very hard to translate Cavafy, as I showed back in 2002.) Thanks, Eric!

Unrelated but not worth a separate post, and I can’t resist pointing it out: the German translation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Word for World Is Forest is Das Wort für Welt ist Wald. What a great title!


  1. Hmm. The Word for World is Weald? Alas, the Weald (of Pevensey) is only 23% woodland today.

  2. Owlmirror says

    If you go to this page — the link that is one up from your first — and scroll down the page, you can see that it has the reading as well (it’s the same sound file; I checked).
    It also has a reading of “Ithaca”.

  3. Jehapters says

    And in Dutch it’s “Het woord voor wereld is woud”.

  4. Okay, then, The Word for World is Wood. To me that would suggest the material rather than the forest, though.

  5. Arrgh. Too much italics, too little previewing.

  6. Bathrobe says

    Hmmm. I see the Italian name of the novel is Il mondo della foresta (see Wikipedia, hoping the link is ok).

  7. How about The Word for World is Woods?

  8. Treesong says

    How about The Word for World is Woods?
    Better English but loses the pure wort wort wort of the German. Even with ‘Wood’ you lose the last liquid. ‘Weald’ captures it best but is obsolescent as a common noun.
    English has 73 words for ‘woods’ but can’t express some ideas that German can.

  9. michael farris says

    The Polish title is “Slowo las znaczy świat” (the word forest means world). While it doesn’t have the cool alliteration of the German I like the change in order.

  10. The Russian title (Слово для леса и мира одно) is nice because it is in dactyls – SLOva dlya LEsa i MIra adNO.

  11. Little did she know her title would inspire so many fine foreign versions!

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