Ithaca

If you decide to go to Ithaca,
Hope that the journey is long,
Full of adventure and experience.

Those Laestrygonians, the Cyclops, angry Poseidon,
Do not be afraid of them
For you will never see them on your way
As long as your thoughts are pure
And passion touches both your spirit and your flesh.

The Laestrygonians, the Cyclops, fierce Poseidon,
You will not meet
Unless you carry them in your heart;
Unless your heart puts them before you.

Pray that your journey be long,
That there will be many summer mornings
When with joy and delight you will enter harbours
You have never entered before;
See Phoenician ports, gain gifts
of mother of pearl, coral, amber and ebony
Perfumes, sensuous and varied,
As many as you can sense.

Visit those varied Egyptians cities
And gather knowledge from the wise.

But always, have Ithaca in your mind.

Your destination is to arrive there,
But do not hurry your journey –
Better that it may last many years,
That you toss out your anchor at some island

As you grow old, richer for having traveled,
Expect nothing from Ithaca
Other than the journey of your life.

For without her, you would never have begun,
And it is this that Ithaca has given you,
What more could she offer?

And if you do arrive
And find her poor…
Ithaca has not deceived you.

For you now have the experience, the wisdom to know
What all these Ithacas mean.

C. P. Cavafy
October, 1910

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