–A friend recently presented me with a small collection of C. P. Cavafy’s poetry. I am familiar with his work, but not so much with those collected in this small, beautiful anthology.
–Today we lay on the beach on Andiparos. Waves lapped at the rocks; birds sang in the dry, hot September air; we swam, ate lunch. We read Cavafy to each other. I was particularly moved by his poem ‘Ithaca’, written in 1911. It is of leaving and arriving, the maturation of the soul and that this is all we may wish for as our journeys continue.
–We all come to places, places we have read about in books, or perhaps overheard–they are awed, exotic hushed whipsers. We all leave these places, hopefully taking with us what we have been given, what we can carry, gifts from Phoenecians…
IthacaAs you set out bound for Ithaca hope that the journey is a long one, full of adventures, full of learning. Of the Laestrygonians and Cyclopes, of wrathful Poseidon have no fear, you’ll never meet suchlike on your journey, if your thoughts remain lofty, if noble sentiment grips your body and spirit. You’ll never encounter raging Poseidon, Laestrygonians and Cyclopes, unless you bear them in your soul, unless your soul sets them before you. Hope that the journey is a long one. That the summer morns be many when with what delight, what joy you enter harbours hitherto unseen; that you stop at Phoenecian markets, and acquire fine merchandise, nacre and coral, amber and ebony, and all kinds of heady perfumes, as many heady perfumes as you can; that you visit many Egyptian cities, to learn and learn from the erudite. Always keep Ithaca in mind. To arrive there is your destination. But in no way rush the voyage. Better for it to last many years; and for you to berth on the isle an old man, rich with all you gained on the journey, without expecting Ithaca to give you riches. Ithaca gave you the wonderful voyage. Without her you would not have set out on your way. Yet she has nothing more to give you. And though you may find her wanting, Ithaca has not deceived you. Wise as you’ve become, with so much experience, already you’ll have understood what these Ithacas mean. C.P. Cavafy, 1911
I will continue reading Cavafy. I fall into his words, as one falls into a conversation.