Home Again, Home Again

Odysseus steps ashore on Ithaka after years of wandering. Sculpture at the dock in Vathy.

I’m still in recovery mode after another wonderful month spent aboard my second (floating) home, the Aegean Odyssey.  As always, cruising the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Aegean – bouncing from fascinating historical sites to breathtaking natural landscapes – made me feel like an adventurer, an explorer, and a time traveler all rolled into one.  This particular voyage felt more like an actual odyssey than most because it included a stop at the home port of the legendary Odysseus himself, on the Greek island of Ithaka (see photos).  Add to that the fact that there were two lovely ladies named Penelope sailing with us (also, of course, the name of Odysseus’s ever-faithful wife who held down the homestead during the long years that her husband fought at Troy and made his epic journey back home) and it seemed downright legendary!  Stay tuned for pictures and posts about some of the most interesting places we made port on the journey. In the meantime, enjoy these photos and the text of “Ithaka” by C.P. Cavafy, a beautiful poem about life, travel, experiences, and our ultimate arrival home.

The port of Vathy on Ithaka. I understand why Odysseus never wanted to leave home in the first place!


When you set out for Ithaka
Ask that your way be long,
Full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
Angry Poseidon — do not fear them;
Such as these you will never find
As long as your thought is lofty,
As long as a rare emotion
Touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
Angry Poseidon — you will not meet them
Unless you carry them in your soul,
Unless your soul raise them up before you.

Ask that your way be long,
At many a summer dawn to enter —
With what gratitude, what joy!
Ports seen for the first time;
To stop at Phoenician trading centers,
And to buy good merchandise.
Mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
And sensuous perfumes of every kind.
Buy as many sensuous perfumes as you can,
Visit many Egyptian cities
To learn and learn from those who have knowledge.

Always keep Ithaka fixed in your mind;
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But do not in the least hurry the journey.
Better that it last for years
So that when you reach the island you are old,
Rich with all that you have gained on the way,
Not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.
Ithaka has given you the splendid voyage.
Without her you would never have set out,
But she has nothing more to give you.
And if you find her poor,
Ithaka has not deceived you.
So wise have you become, of such experience,
That already you will have understood
What these Ithakas mean.

– C. P. Cavafy (1868-1933)

Arriving at Ithaka.



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2 responses to “Home Again, Home Again

  1. john lindus

    excellent post-cavefy more than any other greek poet understood and gave words to that silent longing which floods greek hearts when they are far from home -to return and stand one last time in a place of memories –

    in my experience the ancient greeks are still among us -not in the cities or towns, but on the land -sayings and practices handed down by word of mouth -but more often they are shy of modernity and therefore remain quite with strangers – i say this mindful of your pursuit of the sensory ,
    sapho’s phrase the “silvery moon” has often been dismissed by some academics as being poetically poor -whereas the opposite is true -it describes perfectly the effect of a phenomena which occurs twice a year
    when moisture is leaving or returning to the land -this forms an invisible veil -changing the look of the moon in the north Aegean -but to see it, one has to be as her -to sit ,to observe, to record

    last words -its is a great pleasure to read your blog, found it by chance i was looking for coin images of the great she wolf of rome –

    • John, thank you for your wonderful comment. I am glad you enjoyed the blog – I don’t get the time to update it very often, as you can see. Your comments on Sappho are very intriguing. Do you know if there is a scientific term for the phenomenon you describe, or can you tell me what times of the year it occurs? I’m fascinated by that type of thing. Having grown up in the country myself in Texas with my grandparents who both came from families that farmed and ranched, it is interesting to think about the wisdom and lore that are handed down through the generations as being manifestations of ancient culture, in our case a blend of Native American, Meso-American (brought to the southern U.S. by laborers from Mexico and Central America), and European (primarily Scotch-Irish for my family). It seems that every time some astronomical event or unusual weather manifestation occurs, my grandmother has a different name for it than the scientists!

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