Life is a Journey


As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one.
full of adventure, full of discovery.

May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;

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

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
You will have understood by then what
these Ithakas mean.


Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

Years ago we anchored off Ithaka, but remained aboard for the night. Then continued our passage to Piraeus through the Corinth Canal without having set foot on the Island. For although Ithaka is a metaphor, the place itself is still somehow sacred to me. That I dared not enter before my time. The power of poetry.

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