Ithaca

Ithaca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
When you set out for your return to Ithaca,
Wish that your journey be long,
Full of knowldedge, full of adventure.
The Laestrygonians and the Cyclops,
Angry Poseidon, do not fear them;
These you shall not find before you,
If your thought remains lofty,
If a fine emotion touches your body and soul.
The Laestrygonians and the Cyclops,
Angry Poseidon you shall not meet,
If you do not carry them inside your soul,
If your soul does not raise them before you.

Wish that your journey be long.
Many the summer mornings, when, with what excitement,
What joy, you reach harbors seen for the first time;
When you stop at the Phoenetian markets,
Buying fine merchantise, mother-of-pearl, coral,
Amber, ebony, and sensuous perfumes of every kind;
Sensuous perfumes above all you must get.
Stopping at those antique Egyptian towns,
Letting wise men there teach you.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind,
Reaching there is your goal.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Let it last many long years;
And when, an old man, you reach your island,
Laden with riches gained on the way,
Do not expect Ithaca to give you more.

Ithaca gave you the exquisite journey.
Without her, you would not have started out.
Ithaca has nothing else to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you,
Because of her you have become so experienced, so wise
That you must have understood what these Ithacas mean.

By C. P. Cavafis
Translated by Constantine Santas

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