This poem has been in my mental saddlebags for about a quarter of a century.  I can’t remember how I came across it but after a few readings it imprinted itself on my memory. 

It’s by a Greek poet, Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933), and draws on one of the great Greek epics, the long, slow return of Odysseus to his native Ithaka, after what ends up being round trip of a couple of decades.  But like many ostensibly Greek themes, this has universal resonance and is a metaphor for the journey through life of any human being. 

Key point, don’t hurry the journey. 

In case you missed earlier selections in the Poems for my Family series, here is Lawrence Durrell, John Donne,  Robert Frost, and W.B. Yeats.

 

Source: Constantine Cavafy, ‘Ithaka’, trans. by Edmund Keeley in C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems, trans. Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard © 1975, 1992 Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard.  The full text, reprinted with permission of Princeton University Press, can be found on the Poetry Foundation website. 

Photo credit: stodwa at pixabay

As you set out for Ithaka

hope your road is a long one,

full of adventure, full of discovery …

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Poems for my Family 006 - Cavafy - Ithaka

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