ITHAKI

The Poem
BY CONSTANTIVE CAVAFY, ALEXANDRIA 1911

As you set out on your journey to Ithaki,
wish that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops
the angry Poseidon don’t be afraid,
you will never meet these in your way
if your thoughts are raised high,
if a fine emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you don’t carry them within you,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Wish that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many when,
with such pleasure, such joy,
you enter ports never seen before;
Stop at the Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
As many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from those who know.

Always keep Ithaki in your mind.
Arriving there is your destination.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years
And you are old when you anchor on the island,
rich with all you have gained along your way,
Not expecting Ithaki to offer you treasures.

Ithaki gave you the beautiful journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing more to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaki has not deceived you.

Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must have already understood what Ithakes mean.

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