Moving forward & Ithaka poem

C.P. Cavafy

 Just realizing March is passing me by without an entry. It shouldn’t be. It’s been a good month, ending rather so quickly compared to February which seemed quite long, yet it had the shortest months. I guess it’s because many of us wanted to see the sun, so Feb kind of dragged its feet to show us who was in control of the seasons. So relieved March delivered. Perhaps i’ve been busy catching some sun I forgot to come here write a few words.

Another realization is that half the time I write or talk nowadays is about the weather. Am trying to think before then, what was the conversation like? What did I talk about? What did we talk about? Haven’t I lost something precious? Why let the weather have all the mileage? A while ago I was working on a poem and noticed lots of weather metaphors and the essence of change embedded in them, (keeping sight of the trees to see them regain their leaves, their blood, their full color) so I said to myself, stop. I listened to the month ticking, talking, and here’s what it said:

March says move forward

As there’s still so much left to do

Roll on

Count on each day a blessing

Hope for the heart.

And now, I’ll close with one of the best poems I love. I’ve read it a hundred times in its various translations, I should really say it’s my favorite, but… let me just say it’s timeless and every time I read it, it makes me whole. That’s a huge claim but its true. So before the last day of March goes into the past, let’s share this Ithaka poem that’s like breath to me.

Ithaca by Constantine P 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.

To read more Cavafy poems.


, ,

One Response to Moving forward & Ithaka poem

  1. Charles Kibirige May 12, 2010 at 4:53 pm #

    Hi Mildred,
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom on this blog. You are as good as ever.I was reading your post on the meaning of MARCH and I wondered what MAY might mean! I tried my own skills and here is what came from my humble talent (whatever you might want to call it).
    If you asked me if this has been a good month consider:
    M = my
    A = answer to be
    Y = yes!
    How about that for a beginner…!!!
    Enjoy the rest of the month.

Leave a Reply