Thursday, June 16, 2016


As you set out for Ithaka, hope the journey is a long one.

That's the first line from the Greek poet, C.P. Cavafy's poem entitled Ithaka. It has been quoted, translated, and often referred to in its carpe diem, live-for-today theme. But it's such a difficult idea when we are human--to live in the now, to see and feel what is before us at one particular moment or another rather than to rush our lives away waiting for one event and planning for the next.

Following, is a link in which Sean Connery, with his soothing voice, narrates the poem:  Ithaka.  And below is a passage from the novel, Your Own Kind, which borrows the idea of the poem.

        Alexandros had read those lines in the tattered poetry book more times than he could count, and yet at that moment, it was as if he were hearing them for the first time. Though the actual words were as familiar as the fingers on his hand, it was here, in the car with Sarah, that the meaning found its real home as the poet reached out through the ages. Suddenly there was an answer to his uncertainty--an answer to the letter his father had yet to send him. 
        Alexandros had been a brooding adolescent in his mountain village when the schoolmaster gave the older students that book of poems as a gift. There were only four students in his grade--all boys, but Alexandros was the one Mr. Thaskalos had chided to stop waiting for life to happen.
        It's a journey and you're on it. Don't wait for a destination; look around you, boy! This is life.
        But at fifteen, Alexandros had thought he knew more than the old schoolmaster. He needed to go somewhere, do something, but what? His restlessness had blinded him. With the other boys, he'd made fun of the poetry book. What were they to do with it? It was of no use to them when hunting or herding. But the village boredom which inevitably creeps into the young inhabitants of the mountains, led him to the book one snowy afternoon and as Alexandros read, he was surprised to be moved by mere words. He memorized certain poems--Ithaca was the first, appealing to a young boy because it spoke of Odysseus, hero of the Trojan War. He traced over those same words again and again until he found himself reciting them inside his head while herding the goats or cutting wood. But it was in this place, with this American girl, where the message of the poet became as clear as mountain spring water.

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