Ithaka (excerpt)

When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
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 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 were destined for.
But do not in the least hurry the journey.
Better that it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all that you have 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 decieved you.
So wise have you become, of such experience,
that you will already have understood what these Ithakas mean.

Always in search of more experience, more richness, more challenge. Cavafy knows, and I know Mr. Valhouli did too.  How I miss you, James Valhouli.

2 thoughts on “Ithaka”

  1. No accident that my child is named Penelope. She was named for an idea my mom was writing about before she died. She said that women are always the truest heroines because waiting, and tending to dailiness is much more difficult labor than going and doing deeds.
    Penelope-she felt- was the hero of The Odysessy.

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