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> "Ithaka" by C. P. Cavafy, Read at Jacqueline Kennedy's graveside
Maggie
post Feb 1 09, 07:29
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Hi folks,

I just wanted to share this free verse poem with you. It was read at Jacqueline Kennedy's graveside. It compares death to a long journey.

Peggy




Ithaka


As you set out for Ithaka

hope the voyage is a long one,

full of adventure, full of discovery.

Laistrygonians and 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 and 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 the voyage is a long one.

May there be many a summer morning when,

with what pleasure, what joy,

you come into harbors seen 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 gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

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.


A translation by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard for "C. P. Cavafy/Collected Poems," (Princeton University Press, 1992.)


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Psyche
post Mar 10 09, 10:18
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Hi Peggy,

An interesting poem, this one. I'm glad you posted it. To think I only visited the sculptures and temples built to honor these gods & legendary places!

I would like to know from what language it's been translated? I see the name C.P. Cavafy, whom I suppose is the author. Is he Greek?

On several readings, I gather that the voyage is a "round trip", one that is repeated more than once. Meaning that Jacqueline Kennedy set out in real life from her own Ithaka, returned, and on dying sets out again. Don't know whether I'm making any sense...LOL...In this life we face many monsters & catastrophes, and hopefully learn from them; in afterlife, it may be a similar journey, maybe Ithaka(s) never end...

Impressive.
Hugs, Syl***


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Maggie
post Mar 11 09, 09:05
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Hi Syl,

Glad you find the poem interesting too!! I tried to find the poet's home country but couldn't. I got the poem from the NY Times newspaper story. I thought it was very appropriate for Jacqueline Kennedy's funeral.

I'm reading funeral poetry right now. I've had to pick out poems for funerals in the last years or so. I've found some beautiful ones: "The Mournes" ( compares death to a firelit room) by Helen Waddell; "Crossing the Bar" ( compares death to a voyage from a harbor going out to sea) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson; "Thanatopsis" ( compares death to a pleasant sleep with beautiful dreams) by William Cullen Bryant; and this one which I think compares to death to a long, exciting journey, but perhaps doesn't glorify or clarify the final end of the journey.

Thank you for reading! I like to share poetry with friends, don't you?

Peggy


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Peterpan
post Mar 12 09, 13:05
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Thanks for this...amazing.

Bev


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Maggie
post Mar 12 09, 13:18
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Hi Bev,

Thanks for reading! I agree that's it's amazing!

Peggy


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Peterpan
post Mar 12 09, 13:22
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I appreciate you posting poetry of interest. We need to be exposed. And to poetry of this kind and also to appreciate the intentions of the poetry and where it was read is significant.

Thank you.


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Maggie
post Mar 14 09, 10:23
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Bev,

I might post some more poems. I vividly remember this one when she died.

Thanks for reading!!!

Peggy


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