When setting out upon your way to Ithaca,
wish always that your journey be long,
full of adventure, full of lore.
Of the Laestrygones and of the Cyclopes,
of an irate Poseidon never be afraid;
such things along your way you will not find,
if lofty is your thinking, if fine sentiment
in spirit and in body touches you.
Neither Laestrygones nor Cyclopes,
nor wild Poseidon will you ever meet,
unless you bear them in your soul,
unless your soul has raised them up in front of you.


Wish always that your journey be long;
that many there be of summer morns
when with such pleasure, such great joy,
you enter ports now for the first time seen;
that you may stop at some Phoenician marts,
to purchase there the best of wares,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber, ebony,
hedonic perfumes of all sorts -
as many such hedonic perfumes as you can;
that you may go to various Egyptian towns
to learn, and learn from those schooled there.


Your mind should ever be on Ithaca.
Your reaching there is your prime goal.
But do not rush your journey anywise.
Better that it should last for many years,
and that, now old, you moor at Ithaca at last,
a man enriched by all you gained upon the way,
and not expecting Ithaca to give you further wealth.


For Ithaca has given you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set your course.
There is no more that she can give.


And if you find her poor, Ithaca will not have deceived you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithacas mean.

Konstantinos P. Kavafis





Footnote
Ithaca, Greece, is an island in the Ionian sea, the birthplace of Ulysses, in Greek: Odysseus.
His ten-year long adventures on his way home after the Trojan war have been told in Homer's epic poem, the Odyssey.

Ithaca the poem was written in 1911 by Konstantinos P. Kavafis, one of Greece's most distinguished poets.
He was born on the 29th April 1863 and died on the same date in 1933 in Alexandria, Egypt.

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