Journey to Ithaka

Ithaka by C.P. Cavafy – one of my favourite poems to TRY to live by…

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Trans. Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard.

The above is taken from the Kelsey Museum’s website, Cavafy’s World – care of a transatlantic collaboration between the Kelsey Museum and two archives in Athens, Greece: The Center for Neo-Hellenic Studies (S.N.H.) and the Hellenic Literary and Historical Archives.


More images of Ithaka – not a bad place to end up…if we make it. Background info here. Map here.


4 thoughts on “Journey to Ithaka

  1. Robert Sublet

    Hi Hunter–beautiful thoughtful wise words–Thanks from———— Ithaka –Pt. Lons. where we are now, minding Tara till Mon. next.I have been to many Ithakas and enjoyed the journey each time.Could you come from Tullamarine to Pt. Sun? Love —.

  2. Pingback: fat, bad, and witchy: a woman seeks god | Waiting to Be

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