ITHAKA – C.P. Cavafy (Powerful Life Poetry)

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Read by James Smillie

C. P. Cavafy was a treasured Egyptian-Greek poet who revived Greek poetry in the 20th century.

In his best-known poem 'Ithaka', Cavafy likens the legendary voyage of Odysseus to the journey of every man through life. The poem encourages the reader to live for the journey instead of the destination, to ensure a prosperous and fulfilling life.

Full Poem (English Translation)

As you set out for Ithaka,
Hope the voyage is a long one,
Full of adventure, Full of discovery.

Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
Angry Poseidon – do not fear them.
You shall not encounter such things on your way
If your thoughts are raised high,
If enthusiasm stirs your spirit and body.

Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
Wild Poseidon – you shall not encounter them,
Unless you carry them inside your soul,
Unless your soul bears them before you.

Hope the voyage ahead is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings
When, with what pleasure, what joy,
You enter harbours seen for the first time;

May you stop by Phoenician markets to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind —
As many sensual perfumes as you can find;
And may you visit many Egyptian cities to gather
the stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
Wild Poseidon – do not fear them.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind –
Arriving is what you are destined for.
But do not rush the journey –
Better it lasts for many long years,
so that you may anchor at the island when you have grown old,
Wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the great journey.
She has nothing more to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka will not have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
You will have understood by then what Ithaka means.

#thejourney #poem #ithaka #constantinecavafy #seanconnery

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34 Comments

  1. It is very easy to be different, but very difficult to be better.

    • This is a nice one. Totally relatable with those who strive hard everyday to be better than yesterday. But the tone of the message could have been changed by not using extremity “very”. And by replacing the word “difficult” by challenging. Just my opinion though. 🙂

  2. I choose the happiness of this moment, over the pain of the past.
    🔥

  3. Oh what a wonderful treasurie of such deep wise words, that are painting beautiful pictures in my mind. Fantastic choice, thank you RED FROST.

  4. *Every family has a person who breaks the chain of poverty. I hope you will be that person!!*

  5. Poetry like this motivates me to work on my small poetry channel… There r days when I’m unmotivated because it’s not growing much but then I see stuff like this and remember that I love poetry and I will do anything to make a mark in the poetic world..

    • I feel the same way at times. So many things I want to say but…shy

    • @winston wright it’s okay you’ll get there like I did… I finally started my channel a month ago… It’s not big but i do it because i love the art and not for fame..

    • @ritika jyala I’ll try my best to get out of my shell. What’s your page’s name?

  6. What a wise moving poem, a complete movie adventure for the mind to quest “Σαν βγείς στο πηγαιμό για την Ιθάκη να εύχεσαι να είναι μακρύς ο δρόμος…”

  7. “But do not rush the journey – better it lasts for many long years.”

  8. Many worthwhile things in life are indeed the journey more than they are the destination. Enjoy the journey while it lasts.

    Keep up the good work.

  9. AS MANY SENSUAL PERFUMES AS YOU CAN FIND; AND MAY YOU VISIT MANY EGYPTIAN CITIES TO GATHER THE STORE OF KNOWLEDGE FROM THEIR SCHOLARS.

  10. That was very powerful ancient poetry, I very much enjoyed how much wisdom there was compacted in such a short poem.

  11. I think the poem ends at “what these Ithakas mean”. Also I think Laestrygibians and Cyclops is once in the poem, they read that part 3 times.

    • You’re right about the ending part. Laestrygonians and Cyclops are referred two times.

  12. I am Greek and we are taught this poem. It was also read by Sean Connery.

  13. C.P. Cavafy is my favourite poet. You should read his poem “The City” it’s beautiful

  14. I admire Greek people, their rich culture so much! Much love and respect!

  15. Self accountable travelers , steady, solid ,we move like the air. Consider RedFrost as an Oasis to this journey, a campfire to spend the night with good company, Then carry on…

  16. This poem is more beautiful when you realise what it really means…

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