February 22, 2024 4:16 am

WHEN YOU SET OUT FOR ITHACA: Poetry, by Konstantinos Kavafis

WHEN YOU SET OUT FOR ITHACA

Homer, The Odyssey. Ulysses (Odysseus) killing the Suitors of his wife Penelope on the island of IthacaWhen you set out for Ithaka, you hope your road is long, full of adventure, full of discovery. The Lestrigoni or Cyclops, the angry Neptune do not worry: it will not be this kind of meetings if your thoughts remain lofty, and a rare excitement stirs your spirit and your body. Cyclops or Lestrigoni not certain, nor Neptune incurring the wrath, if they do not carry them in, if the soul does not set them up before you. Hope your road is long, the summer mornings are many, when in port – and now that joy – you touch the ground for the first time at Phoenician trading, lingers and buy pearl, coral, amber and ebony , fine merchandise, and even perfumes piercing of all kinds, more heady fragrance as you can, go in many Egyptian cities, learn many things from their scholars. But do you think of Ithaca, Reach it is your constant thought. Above all, though, do not hurry the journey; if it lasts long, for years, and that old you you reach the island, you, full of treasures gained on the way, not expecting Ithaca to riches. Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey, without her you would never put on the road: what else do you expect? And if you find her poor, Ithaca you will be disappointed. Did you wise now, with so much experience on you, you already have understood what Ithaca mean.

(Konstantinos Kavafis)

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