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Ithaka

 

 

When you set out for Ithaka 
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - do not fear them:
such as these you'll never find
as long as your thoughts 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 what 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 sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.


Have Ithaka always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But do not in the least hurry the journey.
Better that it lasts for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all the you gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give 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 Ithakas mean.

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C.P Cavafy b. 1863 in Alexandria


Ithaka was the beloved island home of the legendary Greek hero, Odysseus. After playing a leading role in the Trojan War, Odysseus roamed the world for 10 years, having adventures, meeting challenges, and learning lessons that profoundly changed him.

The Laistrygonians are mythical, canibalistic monsters who Odysseus encountered at Telephylos after rowing from the Island of Aeolus. Cyclops is the one-eyed monster and Poseidon is the Ocean.

 

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