“It is one of the talents of great stylists to to make obsolete words cease from appearing obsolete through the way in which they introduce them in their writing. Obsolete words which under the pens of others would seem stilted or out of place, occur most naturally under theirs. This is owing to the tact & the judgement of the writers who know when - & when only - the disused term can be introduced, when it is artistically agreeable or linguistically necessary ; & of course then the obsolete words become obsolete only in name. It is recalled into existence by the natural requirements of a powerful or subtle style. It is not a corpse disinterred (as with less skillful writers) but a beautiful body awaked from a long and refreshing nap.”
Translated from the Greek by Martin McKinsey.
From “Notes on Poetics and Ethics” by C.P. Cavafy, published in Ploughshares Winter 1985, the International Writing issue.