by C. P. Cavafy

When you start on your journey to Ithaca,
then pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
Do not fear the Lestrygonians
and the Cyclopes and the angry Poseidon.
You will never meet such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your body and your spirit.
You will never meet the Lestrygonians,
the Cyclopes and the fierce Poseidon,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not raise them up before you.

Then pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many,
that you will enter ports seen for the first time
with such pleasure, with such joy!
Stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and corals, amber and ebony,
and pleasurable perfumes of all kinds,
buy as many pleasurable perfumes as you can;
visit hosts of Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from those who have knowledge.

Always keep Ithaca fixed in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to anchor at the isle when you are old,
rich with all that you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have taken the road.
But she has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not defrauded you.
With the great wisdom you have gained, with so much experience,
you must surely have understood by then what Ithacas mean.

When I first added this to my site a few years ago, I had this to say about it.

Published by bingregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

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  1. Salaam brother Zayn,

    My first thought after seeing the title of this blog post is; Cornell University? The Malaysian (outside of Ithaca) usually mis-pronounced it as “ee-ta-ka”. This poem on the other hand, seems not quite refering to the Ithaca, NY. Still bring back memories thought. [I was in Troy (NY, not MI) though, not Ithaca]

  2. Interesting. TThen the probability is high that there’s a poem on Troy too, right?

    Talking about Ithaca and Cornell U, here’s Dr Laurence Brown who graduated from Cornell University appearing in The Deen Show talk about his books and experience finding Islam. You probably know or heard about him before.

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