I mark the last day of April as poetry month with one of my most favorite poems. I love journeys and the poem, Ithaka, written by the Greek poet, Constantine Peter Cavafy captures for me what a journey can be—one filled with passions, adventures, and awakenings. Let the poem transport you as the best of poetry does. An interesting note —Cavafy,was born on April 29, 1863 and died on the same date in 1933 in Alexandria (Egypt).
Ithaka, by Constantine Peter Cavafy
Hope your journey is long,
Full of adventure, full of awakening.
Do not fear the monsters of the old
You will not meet them in your travels
If your thoughts are exalted and remain high’
If authentic passions stirs your mind, body and spirit.
You will not encounter fearful monsters ,
If you don’t carry them within your soul,
If your soul doesn’t set 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 their scholars.
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.