Sunday, March 13, 2011

Life's Journey

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The amazing poem Ithaka by Greek poet Constatine P. Cavafy arrived at my doorstep today, the 5th day of my 40 day personal practice of inquiry. It cocoons me gently in its themes and life-affirming words. I’ve returned to it several times today and during each reading, my soul has fluttered in a tapestry of rich emotional responses. I have felt a quiet and sweet peace, deep gratitude, and even the melancholy heartache of memories as the images of this poem planted its seeds and came alive in the deepest corners of my being. I notice the reactionary signs of my body- shivers up my spine, the softening of the belly, and the melting of my heart. Our bodies speak their own language. Remain perceptive as to what yours has to say.

I invite you to read Ithaka , close your eyes, then re-read again. Feel the fiber of each letter, each vowel, and each pause. Recite the poem aloud, softly, and notice what images your voice lifts up as an offering. Return to these words with your eyes, caressing each syllable. Then raise your eyes slowly and look up and around. Where have you landed on this stop of your journey? What do you see that you have not seen before or noticed in awhile? Where is your journey to Ithaka taking you now?


When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.

Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy -
ports seen for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
and to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.

Have Ithaka always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don't in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.
Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn't anything else to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka hasn't deceived you.
So wise you have become, of such experience,
that already you'll have understood what these Ithakas mean.

~Constantine P Cavafy ~

With love & hugs from a fellow traveler,



  1. A very beautifull and meaninfull poem!

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  3. Thank you! I'm glad you liked it!