Modern Ithaka, a Greek Island in the Ionian Sea, is generally identified with Homer's Ithaka, the home of Odysseus
Viewpoints is beginning its 8th series, inspired by C. P. Cavafy's poem Ithaka (translated from Greek by Edmund Keeley), symbolizing the destination of a long journey.
As you set out for Ithaka 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 harbors 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 Ithaka 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 Ithaka to make you rich. Ithaka 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, Ithaka won’t have fooled you. Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
(English translation follows below)
Kavafis fue capaz de realizar un poema sencillamente precioso, inspirado en la Odisea de Homero, haciendo una interpretación metafórica de la mítica historia de Ulises como propósito de la vida.
Las Ítacas pueden ser casi cualquier cosa: podrían representar el proceso para lograr una meta, recuperar algo perdido o incluso el acto de transitar por la vida de principio a fin, para finalmente volver al origen. El poeta nos habla sobre la importancia de disfrutar el camino hacia nuestra propia Ítaca, cualquiera que sea esta.
Ítaca es el camino, Ítaca es la vida misma. Inmersos en una vida de prisas, de recompensas fáciles e instantáneas, es común olvidar que el camino, cualquier camino, no solamente es lo que más puede enseñarnos, sino también lo más disfrutable. “… Ítaca no tiene ya nada que darte…”, dice el poeta nacido en Alejandría, por eso es mejor llegar ahí viejo, habiendo vivido aventuras y experiencias.
“…Los Cíclopes, los Lestrigones y la fiereza del dios Poseidón no aparecerán en tu camino si mantienes un pensamiento elevado…”. Así nos recuerda Kavafis que los peligros sólo surgirán si los llevas dentro, si tu alma los pone frente a ti. Y que son nuestros propios demonios los que nos estorban en el proceso hacia alcanzar nuestros deseos.
El concepto de Ítaca encarna el concepto de la sabiduría, de lo que aprendemos a lo largo de nuestro camino y nuestra existencia, de lo que vamos acumulando poco a poco en la mochila de nuestras vivencias y nuestros recuerdos, aquello que siempre llevamos con nosotros mismos.
Si la vida es un camino en búsqueda de la felicidad, entonces la felicidad está en el camino, en la búsqueda misma. Ítaca es a la vez viaje y meta.
¿Cuál es tu Ítaca?
Cavafy was able to create a simply beautiful poem, inspired by Homer's Odyssey, making a metaphorical interpretation of the mythical story of Ulysses as the purpose of life.
In the context of the poem, Ithaka can have many meanings: it could represent the process to achieve a goal, to recover something lost or even the act of going through life from beginning to end, to finally return to the origin. The poet speaks to us about the importance of enjoying the path to our own Ithaka, whatever it may be.
Ithaka is the path, Ithaka is life itself. Immersed in a life of haste, of easy and instantaneous rewards, it is common to forget that the road, any road, is not only what can teach us the most, but also the most enjoyable. "...Ithaka no longer has anything to give you...", says the poet born in Alexandria, that is why it is better to arrive there old, having lived adventures and experiences.
"...The Cyclops, the Lestrygonians and the fierceness of the god Poseidon will not appear in your way if you keep a high thought...". Thus Cavafy reminds us that dangers will only arise if you carry them within you, if your soul puts them in front of you. And that it is our own demons that hinder us in the process of reaching our desires.
The concept of Ithaka embodies the concept of wisdom, of what we learn along our path and our existence, of what we accumulate little by little in the backpack of our experiences and our memories, what we always carry with us.
If life is a journey in search of happiness, then happiness is in the journey, in the search itself. Ithaka is both a journey and a goal.
What is your Ithaka?
A special thank you to Viewpoints newest members, Cecília and Merce Gonzáles for their suggestion of Ithaka as well as the introduction they've shared.
With "Ithaka" as an inspiration, each artist will create 6 works over the next 18 months, one each three months to share in our online gallery. Dimensions will be between 40 - 45 inches in height and 18 - 60 inches in width.
We hope you will consider your Ithaka and join us on our exciting new journey.