Sunday reflexion: Ithaca by K. Kavafis

Ithaca is a greek island generally identified as the home of Odysseus, whose delayed return to the island is the subject of Homer’s the Odyssey.

As you set out for Ithaca
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – don’t be afraid of them:
you’ ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon – you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbours you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind –
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.

Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then this is the meaning of Ithaca.

K. Kavafis, (Greek Κωνσταντίνος Π. Καβάφης) (April 29, 1863 – April 29, 1933)


  1. eleonora says:

    Dal momento che sono venuta al mondo,so di essere in viaggio per la mia Itaca..Itaca rappresenta il viaggio meraviglioso chiamato Vita.Quando dico a me stessa :sara’il tempo di incamminarmi..per certo so, che una nuova sfida mi attende.

  2. eleonora says:

    è meraviglioso leggere e rileggere “ITACA”..Quando mi mettero’ in cammino per lItaca..

  3. Rafaela says:

    Proud to be Greek! ;-) <3
    'Σα βγεις στον πηγαιμό για την Ιθάκη,
    να εύχεσαι νά ‘ναι μακρύς ο δρόμος…
    …Τους Λαιστρυγόνες και τους Κύκλωπας,
    τον θυμωμένο Ποσειδώνα μη φοβάσαι,
    τέτοια στον δρόμο σου ποτέ σου δεν θα βρεις,
    αν μέν’ η σκέψης σου υψηλή…" ;''-) <3

  4. Andrea says:

    “Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
    Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
    She has nothing left to give you now.”

    Esta parte me encanta.

    1. Leslie Provatas says:

      Ithaca is one of the seven islands that were never occupied by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire. Yes, there were Venetians, the English, but the culture of these islands is quite different than anywhere else in Greece. How do I know this? I lived in Greece for thirteen years, my husband was Greek and his family are from the island of Corfu, the largest on the seven islands of the Ionian Sea. There is no other place like these islands. The culture and beauty of Corfu is unexplainable except in that many of the older families on the islands are Byzantine Greeks that migrated there after or during the fall of the Byzantium. Kvafiss was a great poet. My son and granddaughter live up in a non-touristic mountain village on the island of Corfu. This was our gift to him. I hope they are happy. I was always a bad tourist. It is only lately in the last few years that I go to museums to stare at things I would not have cared about in my youth, anyway. I was too busy living and doing.

  5. Ilva Asote says:

    Once you set out for Ithaca —
    Your road was a long one
    full of adventure, full of discovery.
    You kept Ithaca always in your mind.
    And now, arriving here, is what you were destined for.

    Ithaca —
    Don’t be surprised to meet here Calliope – the wisest and oldest of all muses. She will give you her writing tablet and ask: “Why is a raven like a writing desk?”
    Tell her of the beautiful-voiced and sacred bird who once had snowy white feathers. Tell her how the Raven wanted to get some water from the God’s cup and failed, so, lost his voice…
    And yes, don’t be surprised, if the Muse asks to you, who told you all these wonders… But don’t hurry with the answer. Just draw a circle on the writing tablet and give it back to Calliope…

    1. Ilva Asote says:

      If you hope to meet Urania in Ithaca, you waste your time. The Muse of Stars left an island many years ago. Since then Ithaca is poor, she has nothing left to give you now… But don’t be upset! You created a form, now ask the blooming Muse of comedy to fill it with beauty! But when she laughs, laugh with her… Thalia’s beauty is her laughter.

  6. athena says:

    ”Σα βγεις στον πηγαιμό για την Ιθάκη,
    να εύχεσαι νά ‘ναι μακρύς ο δρόμος,
    γεμάτος περιπέτειες, γεμάτος γνώσεις.
    Τους Λαιστρυγόνες και τους Κύκλωπας,
    τον θυμωμένο Ποσειδώνα μη φοβάσαι,
    τέτοια στον δρόμο σου ποτέ σου δεν θα βρεις,
    αν μέν’ η σκέψης σου υψηλή,
    αν εκλεκτή συγκίνησης το πνεύμα και το σώμα σου αγγίζει. Τους Λαιστρυγόνες και τους Κύκλωπας,
    τον άγριο Ποσειδώνα δεν θα συναντήσεις,
    αν δεν τους κουβανείς μες στην ψυχή σου,
    αν η ψυχή σου δεν τους στήνει εμπρός σου.

    Να εύχεσαι νά ‘ναι μακρύς ο δρόμος.
    Πολλά τα καλοκαιρινά πρωία να είναι
    που με τι ευχαρίστησι, με τι χαρά
    θα μπαίνεις σε λιμένας πρωτοειδωμένους·
    να σταματήσεις σ’ εμπορεία Φοινικικά,
    και τες καλές πραγμάτειες ν’ αποκτήσεις,
    σεντέφια και κοράλλια, κεχριμπάρια κ’ έβενους,
    και ηδονικά μυρωδικά κάθε λογής,
    όσο μπορείς πιο άφθονα ηδονικά μυρωδικά·
    σε πόλεις Αιγυπτιακές πολλές να πας,
    να μάθεις και να μάθεις απ’ τους σπουδασμένους.

    Πάντα στον νου σου νάχεις την Ιθάκη.
    Το φθάσιμον εκεί είν’ ο προορισμός σου.
    Αλλά μη βιάζεις το ταξίδι διόλου.
    Καλλίτερα χρόνια πολλά να διαρκέσει·
    και γέρος πια ν’ αράξεις στο νησί,
    πλούσιος με όσα κέρδισες στον δρόμο,
    μη προσδοκώντας πλούτη να σε δώσει η Ιθάκη.

    Η Ιθάκη σ’ έδωσε το ωραίο ταξίδι.
    Χωρίς αυτήν δεν θάβγαινες στον δρόμο.
    Άλλο δεν έχει να σε δώσει πια.

    Κι αν πτωχική την βρεις, η Ιθάκη δεν σε γέλασε.
    Έτσι σοφός που έγινες, με τόση πείρα,
    ήδη θα το κατάλαβες η Ιθάκες τι σημαίνουν.”

    1. Βασίλης says:

      Thank you, athena, for posting the original. Beautiful. Always something missing in the translation…

  7. evi says:

    Thank you Paulo for publishing this wonderfull Greek poem and also all the greek people that mensioned details about K.Kavafis and translating the poem.
    It’s one of the greatest poems written by a great poet K.Kavafis.
    I think everyone should have this lines as a guide to our lives.

  8. Hit says:


  9. gaby says:

    these poem is so beautiful i just found it interesting because i want to travel around the world because i thing my city of birth is not as those big cities that you see in television and i was living somewhere else and i learned that while you are far from home you learn a lot but home is HOME and will always be waiting for you..

    to: paulo coehlo
    sr. í¬ ` started reading your book the alquimist and it made me think diferent about my life and the goals i have thank you for writing these amazing things that guide us to a better life .

    gabriela vargas from mexico

  10. Audrey Titaley says:

    It’s so wonderful^^