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Ithaka and Various Journeys

In addition to the usual daily living stuff, I've been become deeply involved in research for a new book, to be called Unidentical Twins.  It's about States and states that have a lot in common but which are different, and working on it is fascinating and absorbing.  Therefore, I've not thought much about this blog.

However, I do find time for a few frivolous things, and this week I've found myself involved in a literary chain letter, inviting poems and book recommendations.  My thought was that perhaps I could get some good recommendations for the book discussion groups I lead: this is the time when we start drawing up next seasons' lists.  The poetry I didn't care much about.  But this was shared this morning, and while I'm not a poetry lover, I am swept away.  I guess it's more or less the way I've come to approach life.

By Constantine Cavafy

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.

This post first appeared on Not So Solitary A Pleasure: A Blog About Books, please read the originial post: here

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Ithaka and Various Journeys


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