Cavafy's barbarians constitute a peculiar metaphor for the (self-)censoring process of revealing and hiding the voices of Others in the colonial order of the archive. The theme recurs in three of his works—an “unwritten” poem, a “hidden” poem, and a poem included in the canon—all of which reflect Cavafy's engagement with British colonialism in Egypt. The novelist and critic Stratis Tsirkas, also a Greek who grew up in Egypt, has argued that Cavafy's rising aversion to the British occupation regime developed alongside the shifting ideological lines of the Hellenic diaspora, as expressed by its dominant segment. Drawing upon Tsirkas's readings of the poems, we can revisit the poet's archive as a kind of “taxonomy in the making” where colonial reality is inscribed. In addition, Cavafy's “recording” of the hidden material allows us to reframe our readings of his canonical poems.

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