Unlike most poets, Cavafy has been so abundantly translated in English that you can take many different journeys to discover him. One approach would be to sidestep the book-length translations for a while and enter Cavafy’s work through the many poets who have admired him enough to attempt their own versions of individual poems. (Unfortunately, no Anglophone poet of stature has undertaken to translate a book-length edition of Cavafy’s poetry.) These versions will tell you how his poems have affected the most creative imaginations and give you a poet’s interpretation—elliptical, implicit, of course—of what he means and achieves. I have gone through many more poems than those listed here, looking for pieces that added something new to my understanding of Cavafy, but the number of works inspired by him is so large that I am certain to have missed a few.
Once you have a poet’s understanding of Cavafy, return and read C. P. Cavafy: The Canon, translated by Stratis Haviaras, with a foreword by Seamus Heaney. The Oxford World Classics translation by Evangelos Sachperoglou also has its strong points (Peter Mackridge’s introduction is excellent). C. P. Cavafy: The Complete Poems, translated by Daniel Mendelsohn, is more a classical historian’s edition. I would use it for further study and as a reference text containing historical information and poems not available in other editions. (Most of these “unfinished,” “repudiated,” and early poems are minor works.) With the world’s lavish attention to all things Cavafian, you will find your own version of Cavafy to admire, just as you will find your own Ithaca.
Here is a list of recommended versions of Cavafy by poets, poems directly inspired by Cavafy that capture some aspect of his sensibility, and a few poems that suggested to me the ways in which some of the best poets may have incorporated what they learned from Cavafy into their work: