Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ithica by Constantine Cavafy (read by Sean Connery)

What better way to spend a rainy Sunday than reading and finding Internet treasures? Maybe it's the rain that has made me feel so contemplative or maybe it's the enforced day of rest because I'm been going at a very fast clip (and glad to do so).

The two photography shows that I've seen in the last week - Julie Michelle's and Henri Cartier-Bresson have made me think of journeys, physical ones and those of the imagination. I think about my own journey here, more than 40 years ago and where that has taken me. Unlike Odysseus, I'm no hero and never wanted to be, but like Odysseus, I wander through uncharted seas - although my seas are of the mind, not physical ones. I have been shipwrecked on islands full of treacherous monsters and sailed through rocks that threatened to crush me. Yet, I keep sailing on and fully intend to do so as long as I can.

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.
 "..... The Greeks and their destiny. In the end, though, is Cavafy not also suggesting this same idea that our destiny is probably nothing else but the inner journey of meaning itself, no matter "where" we find ourselves? For as many of you will recall, Cavafy, the great poet of foreign lands and times past, never in fact traveled to these places that he was writing about. Writing his epic historical and romantic poetry, he lived alone for 25 years, working as a clerk in the employment of the Ministry of Public Works of Egypt, in Alexandria. Indeed, when I think of him working by day in a government office and at night writing poetry of such passion, well, not unlike how I think of Mandelstam writing in prison, I am almost overhelmed by this triumph of the human spirit.

The foreign lands, the exotic goods, the unending oceans and the heroes of antiquity--these were all lands he visited in his exquisite imagination. Dreaming of Ithaka, I think it is true that what really matters is what happens in the breathing and seeing/blindist heart. "

1 comment:

A Cuban In London said...

What's that one about the candles that I used to like so much? Oh, dear, now you've awakened by dormant Cavafy! :-) I love his poems. You used a key word in your post: contemplative. That's what Cavafy's poetry is to me. And I wish I could read it in the original Greek.

Many thanks.

Greetings from London.