Ithaca

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The Greek poet Constantin Cavafis (1863 – 1933) on the need to embrace our journey not simply longing for the objective.

Ithaca

When you set out on your voyage to Ithaca
Ask that the road be long and filled
With adventure and new experiences,
Fear neither the Leastrygonians nor raging Poseidon.

You will never encounter such beings on your journey
If your thoughts are lofty
And pure are the emotions
That fill your spirit and body.

Neither Anthropophagi nor one-eyed monsters,
Nor the savage sea-god shall you encounter
Unless you carry them inside your soul
And they rise up within you.

Ask that the road be long
And that the summer mornings be many
When you joyfully arrive, filled with pleasure
In ports never seen by you before.

Stop at the emporiums of Phoenicia
And behold the beautiful goods
Of mother of pearl, coral, amber, and ebony.
And enjoy all manner of sensual scents.

The more you see, the better.
And learn, learn from the Wise
Do go and visit many Egyptian cities
And learn, learn from the Wise.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind,
For it is your Destiny to get there.
But do not hasten the journey:
Much better it is for it to last years.

And drop anchor on that isle
When you are old and enriched
By all that you garnered on your way there,
Rather than waiting for Ithaca to make you rich.

Ithaca provides you with a beautiful voyage
Without which you would not
Have embarked on that journey
But it no longer has anything to give you.

Even if you find Ithaca impoverished
You were not deceived,
So that now, all the wiser from experience
You have come to know the meaning of Ithaca.