A Poem for a Thursday #10

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash
I first came across today's poem because it is used on a blog I read. Carolann, at Finding Ithaka, loves the poem so much she included it in her blog name. I hadn't read it before but it is beautiful. The words have such a lovely rhythm and flow to them. C. P. Cavafy was a Greek poet, journalist, and civil servant. His poetry wasn't formally published in his lifetime. He preferred to have it appear in local newspapers and magazines or to self-publish it in pamphlets he gave away to anyone who expressed interest. He became much more well-known after his death and is now considered to be "perhaps the most original and influential Greek poet of the 20th century."

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. 

C. P. Cavafy

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