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1

ITHACA 

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 centers,

And to buy good merchandise.

Mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,

And sensuous perfumes of every kind.

Buy as many sensuous perfumes as you can,

Visit many Egyptian cities

To learn and learn from those who have knowledge. 

Always keep Ithaka fixed in your mind;

Your arrival there is what you are destined for.

But do not in the least hurry the journey.

Better that it last for years

So that when you reach the island you are old,

Rich with all that you have gained on the way,

Not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth. 

Ithaka has given you the splendid voyage.

Without her you would never have set out,

But she has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor,

Ithaka has not deceived you.

So wise have you become, of such experience,

That already you will have understood

What these Ithakas mean. 

C. P. Cavafy

 

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