Saturday, October 07, 2006

National Poetry Day

I missed posting anything for it, but this is my favourite poem at present

Ithaca
When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon -- do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at 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 scholars.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithaca means.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)

3 Comments:

Blogger PI said...

That hit the spot and made me a little sad. Greece is my spiritual home and our wings are now clipped.
When I was in Ithica a taxi driver told me how he had driven two very old archeologists around the island
where they had worked for years and realiseng they would never return they wept.
Now I really unerstand how they felt.

4:56 pm  
Blogger apprentice said...

Aw I'm sorry it upset you.And the taxi driver's tale is very touching.

I like to think of it as being about life in general - that he's saying it is the journey that's important and not the destination, and that the only demons we'll find are the ones we take along with us.

He was an Orthodox Greek living in Alexandria. He was gay, and lived in a tiny apartment with his mother. He wrote some stunning poetry. He's the only Greek in the graveyard there to have an occupation ascribed to him, that of poet.

12:17 am  
Blogger Rob Mackenzie said...

I really like the little I have read of Cavafy. I must try to check out some more.

12:04 am  

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