This article explores the various elements on which Yannis Ritsos based his approach to construct C.P. Cavafy's image in and focuses on his twofold reading, using his predecessor's biography and poetry.
The poem ‘On Form’ clearly depicts the ‘encounter’ between the two poets and provides the guidelines to explore it. The other eleven poems are built up around it and together they stress: (a) the path that brought Ritsos close to Cavafy and the problems generated during this course, (b) the external features that gradually lead deeper to his predecessor's poetics, and (c) the importance of poetic appreciation and the difficulties involved.
The following account, therefore, not only explains why Ritsos dedicated Twelve Poems to Cavafy but also underlines their role in his own oeuvre at that time. Formal features and thematic aspects that characterise Cavafy's poetry are incorporated but also elaborated upon in this collection. The younger poet nevertheless retained his independence, foreshadowing his creative assimilation of Cavafy's poetry in the 1960s.