Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Monday, October 24, 2005


(one of my favorite poems)
by Constantinos Cavafy

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and 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 excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and 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 the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen 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 gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not 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 will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.


Blogger Stephen said...

Ahh, but the longer the journey, the longer one is away from Penelope.

10/25/2005 5:58 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

True, but I would far rather have a long journey and experience all the good things life has to offer, rather than die young to see her again. She can be part of my Ithaka to look forward to eventually.

Were you taught in SS that animals wouldn't be in heaven? I was always told that. Don't believe it though.

10/25/2005 9:03 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I was always taught that animals have spirits and would receive whatever glory they were worthy of. This is folk doctrine of course, but I think it is still true. As JS said with regard to another doctrine, "This is good doctrine; it tastes good."

10/27/2005 9:52 PM  
Blogger Emma said...

I just happened upon your blog, and wanted to tell you how much I'm enjoying it - especially after reading "Why I Stay". But I decided not to because I felt timid about commenting on your coversations.
I teach high school English - specifically the Western literary tradition. Thank you for sharing the poem Ithaka. I had never seen it before, but it is a perfect complement to an assignment I just gave my students about The Odyssey.
If you have the chance, feel free to stop by my blog

1/28/2006 8:10 AM  

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