C. P. Cavafy, Ithaca

As you set out for Ithaca,
hope that the voyage is long,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—
don’t be afraid of them:
You’ll never meet such as these on your path,
so long as your thoughts remain lofty,
so long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—
You will never encounter them,
If you do not carry them within your soul,
If your soul does not raise them up before you.

Hope that the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
May you stop at Phoenician markets,
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and corals, amber and ebony,
sensual perfumes of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
And may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn, and learn from those who have knowledge.

Always keep Ithaca fixed in your mind.
To arrive there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for long years,
so you are old by the time you anchor at the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would not have set out on the road,
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what Ithacas mean.

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C. P. Cavafy, Ithaca

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