42 minus two

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.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
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.
Laistrygonians, 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 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

20 thoughts to “42 minus two”

  1. ‘Two trumpets and drums and a flute..!’ Would love to bake you an appeltaart and let you taste it this time ;-) Have fun!

  2. Congrats!
    Being 40 isn’t that bad (Tried it myself for 9 months now), and your’e definately young at heart – and thats what matters along with the ability to wonder. Though i don’t contribute with many comments i read your blog almost every day and enjoy it a lot.
    What did Davy get you?
    Having read “The Odysse” in various versions (The danish modern rewriting by Bent Haller is my preferred) the poem wasn’t that strange, but nice indeed.
    Enjoy your day! Hugs (if that isn’t too private)

  3. Happy birthday, Ingrid! :)

    I read the poem and it seemed awfully familiar. Then it struck me. “the Odyssey”! We’re about to read it in class.

  4. Congratulations, Girl in The Cafe!! :-)

    Thank you so much for the poem, and congratulations on your weblog (and photoblog) too – I come by and sit a little from time to time, sipping my tea while I read (hope you don’t mind), and I enjoy it a lot here :-)

    (and, FYI, I would never ever have guessed you were 40, thought you were twenty-something!)

  5. Strange to see the name written as Cavafy. I know his poetry in Dutch translation under the name Kav?fis. But then wikipedia says that Καβάφης himself used the transcription Cavafy.

    Anyway, congratulations, Ingrid. At 46 I can tell you that either my brain is going at an early age, or that every day I get younger at heart.

  6. Happy Birthday Ingrid. I hope you will have a great day, and remember “Vi bli`r alligevel aldrig voksne” :-)

  7. I just wanted to say happy birthday and thank you so much for the gift…even though it is your day. I listened to Ithika three times last night and around four times already today. It really does do something for the soul. I included this page in an email to all of the people I loveso that they can share this gift too. Happy Birthday and age is nothing but a number, at least to me. If it is the number you are worried about, tell me what do you think of this. In America they say that 40 is the new 30. Smile. Hope this finds you in good health and spirits…LOVE

  8. Oh Ingrid that is just so beautiful. Thank you for posting it. And a most happy and joyful birthday and year to you. I love being in my forties, by the way — I feel so much more sure of things and far happier than I ever have been. I wish that for you as well. xxoo, BL

  9. Ook gefeli van hier! Ik ken die gedachten wel. Volgende maand eerst de 39, volgend jaar is de 40 aan de beurt. Ik vind het oud voelen terwijl ik tegen anderen altijd zeg dat dat nog zooo jong is!

  10. Beetje laat, maar toch nog gefeliciteerd!
    (Ha! Ik ga over drie weken naar Ithaka… !)

  11. Oh, lovely…just lovely. The Voice….. it is such a taste-of-honey, though… Ingrid, won’t you please see if the entire poem, can be linked? There is only a little ten-second bit there, now….

    Where is the recording from?
    so many thanks for the beautiful poem, and the beautiful Voice.

  12. I used to return here often to listen to the poem, yet it is no longer here. Is there another place I may find it? Thank you!

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