C.P. Cavafy – Ithaca

Κωνσταντίνος Καβάφης

As you set out for Ithaca
Pray that your road is long
full of adventure and knowledge

The Lestrygonians and Cyclops
and the fierce Poseidon, you will never meet
If you do not carry them in your soul
if you do not evoke them

Pray that the road is long
with many summer mornings
There is such pleasure and joy
when you enter ports first seen

Roam Phoenician markets
where fine merchandise is sold
Mother-of-pearl, coral, amber and ebony

Smell the sensual perfumes
And visit many Egyptian cities
to learn from scholars

Always keep Ithaca in mind:
your ultimate goal is to arrive there
But do not hurry the voyage
let it last for many years

Reach the island when you are old
rich with what you have earned on the way
Not expecting Ithaca to offer you riches
Ithaca gave you a beautiful voyage
Without her you would never have set out
but she has nothing more to give

And if she disappoints you
Ithaca has not deceived you
Wise as you are
with so much experience
You must already understand
what an Ithaca means

C.P. Cavafy