As you set out for Ithaca
hope that your journey is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – do not be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare sensation
touches your spirit and your body.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon – you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope that your journey is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind –
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and learn again from those who know.

Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so that you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.

Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
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 these Ithacas mean.

Music composed, arranged, produced and performed by Vangelis
Poem recited by Sean Connery
Poem by C.P. Cavafy (1863-1933) written in 1911.

17 thoughts on “Ithaca

  1. When I retired, I was given a book with thoughts from many of my colleagues. This poem was among those treasured contributions. I hold its words close in my heart.

  2. “Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
    you will have understood by then what these Ithacas mean.”

    Yes, I believe that. But it’s difficult to wait for that understanding when I want to grasp it right now. It’s difficult to remember that without the journey, there is no chance of gaining wisdom.

    • Yes, difficult to grasp at times, yet true. Take the example of your book. You thought that finishing the book was your destination. Then you discovered that the journey of writing it was the part that fulfilled you.

      (I agree that the journey of life is a little harder to fathom….)

      Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  3. Elizabeth,

    You are so much like me! I had to laugh when you said you’d been saving a poem with that particular message for the end of your journey. Do you know how many times I say, “When things get settled…” after just saying that I’m trying to go with the flow?

    But eventually we do realize that the unsettled is Life, so after the good laugh, we’re good! And thank you for posting a truly inspiring poem.


    • I had been through a tough 8-10 years, with one thing after another thrown at me. Never in a million years did I expect the big ‘D’ on top of it all. All the other things now seem minor in comparison. Yet, the other issues I suppose gave me the inner strength and attitude that have now helped me survive it.

      You are right ….I think that may be the answer for me too ….. accepting that life is in fact unsettled.
      Then we can all just smile and carry on 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by…

  4. Pingback: Responsibilities ++++ | Almost Spring

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