Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ithaca

Jeff Klein, the subject of the Open Source podcast I listened to at the gym this morning mentioned Cavafy and his poem Ithaca. I hadn't read that poem in decades, so tonight I picked Daniel Mendelsohn's recent translation that has been on my bedside table:

As you set out on the way to Ithaca
hope that the road is a long one,
filled with adventures, filled with understanding.
The Laestrygonians and the Cyclopes,
Poseidon in his anger: do not fear them,
you’ll never come across them on your way
as long as your mind stays aloft, and a choice
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Laestrygonians and the Cyclopes,
savage Poseidon; you’ll not encounter them
unless you carry them within your soul,
unless your soul sets them up before you.
...

There are a few skills that improve with age; understanding more of the meanings of a great poem might be one of them.

3 comments:

Varun Aggarwala said...

This is something that amazes me too. I guess as we become old, we are able to correlate the poems and other literature to happenings around us, and thus are able to understand them better. This is something the machines will never be able to do (data mining), and I guess philosophers will always be in business :)

steve said...

During yesterday's rowing session I heard a comment on a podcast that it was Tennyson's 200th birthday.

I was never a great fan of the romantics, but I remember being startled by the beautiful language in The Lady of Shalott. So I re-read it for the first time since I was a teenager and saw this visual poem from a completely different perspective.

Mariana Soffer said...

Excelent poem, I feel that with age I understand poetry better.
take care