I know I am the one supposed to get the presents today, but I have received so many already these last 5 months (in all different shapes and forms), I would like to give one in return.
It is seldom a poem really catches me, especially the ones that don’t rhyme. I normally don’t get them, they seem to be too intellectual for a simple mind like myself. But this one caught me right from the start. Maybe because it is read by such a wonderful voice, but also because it has beautiful lyrics, and because it shows you that it’s about the travel in life itself, and not about the end destination. Somehow that fits quite well in the time and place I am at the moment.
40 (says my passport, way younger say my heart and soul), a milestone, but a good one. Life has never been better. I am glad I tried.
Press play and listen carefully. (Don’t worry about some of the unusual words used in this poem, read and/or listen between the lines, and I think you’ll get the point.)
As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
angry Poseidon – don’t 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.
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 your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing 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 go on learning from those who know
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
Ithika by : C.P. Cavafy – (1863-1933) – Published November 1911.
Read by : Bill Nighy