When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of aventure, full of instruction.
The laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angy Poseidon—do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your trought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon —you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.
Ask that your way be long.
At many a summer dawn to enter
—with than gratitude, what joy—
ports seen for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
and to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensuos perfumes of every kind,
sensous perfume as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of Knowledge from the learned.
Have Ithaka always in your mind.
You arrival there is what you are destine for.
But do no in the least hurry the journey.
Better that it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to five you wealth.
Ithaka gave you the splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn´t anything else to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka has not deceived you.
So wise have you become, of such experience,
that already you will have understood what these
Cavafy (1863-1933), the most famous of modern Greek poets, lived most of his live in Alexandria, where E. M. Forster described his presence on the streets as “a Greek gentleman in a straw hat, standing absolutely motionless at a slight angle to the universe.” “Ithaka” is a highly popular poem among young people in Greece today.
Ithaka (usually spelled “Ithaca”) is the kingdom of Ulysess (Odysseus), an island off the west coast of Greece. Ulysses, one of the Greek leaders in the war against Troy, did no return to Ithaka and his wife Penelope until after an absence of 20 year. His fabulous journey home is narrated in Homer’s epic, The Odyssey.