Love, Respect and an Ode to the Journey



Valentine’s day is rapidly approaching. While I’m a fan of this mushy ode to the heart’s tugs I find myself using it more as a reminder to simply open my eyes on my day-to-day journeys and appreciate my surroundings. Too often, everyday life has us so focused on tasks at hand that we forget that the joy of life lies in the journey, not the destination — in the search, not necessarily the treasure. So while there are millions of poems ready to be recited on February 14th over candlelit dinners and professions of true love, I’ve been busy memorizing Constantine Cavafy’s classic, “Ithaca,” penned in 1911 and first introduced to me by my older sister many moons ago.

This verse has always spoken to my Aquarian soul and seems the perfect piece of writing for any and all second-hand treasure hunters to, well, take to heart. So, without further ado, enjoy and…happy Valentine’s Day!


When you set out for Ithaca
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 Ithaca 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, Ithaca hasn’t deceived you.
So wise you have become, of such experience,
that already you’ll have understood what these Ithacas mean.


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