In “Late Elegy” for William Carlos Williams, the line “white as death” is from Williams’ poem “The Snow Begins,” which can be found in Pictures from Brueghel.

I am in debt to Edmund Keeley, Philip Sherrard, and Rae Dalven for their translations of Cavafy’s poems; to Keeley, again, for his Cavafy’s Alexandria; and to Robert Liddell for his biography. The epigraphs to “My Cavafy Poem” are translations of his own lines. In the first section I quote E.M. Forster’s description of Cavafy from his Pharos and Pharillon.

“The Power of the Powerless” can be found in Living in Truth, a collection of Vaclav Havel’s essays. “Imagine all the people / living life in peace” is, of course, from John Lennon’s anthem Imagine.

“Prague never lets you go... this dear little mother has sharp claws” is from a letter—dated December 20, 1902—that Kafka wrote to his friend Oskar Pollak.

“The Poet Lying Down” is based on Chagall’s painting of the same name, 1915, which is in the Tate Gallery, London. “The Drinker” is based on Chagall’s painting The Drunkard, 1911-12, which is in a private collection in Caracas, Venezuala. “Rabbi with a Lemon” is based on Chagall’s painting Feast Day, 1914, which is in the Nordrhein-Westfalen Collection in Dusseldorf, West Germany.

“The One Luxury” is based on Chagall’s painting The Poet, or Half-Past Three, 1911-12, which is in the Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“Trying to embrace / a moon / in the Yellow River” is Ezra Pound’s explanation, in his “Epitaph,” of Li Po’s death by drowning. “At least we shall have / descendents” is a line from Kenneth Rexroth’s translation of Tu Fu’s poem “To Pi Ssu Yao,” which is in his One Hundred Poems from the Chinese.

Older Men