Wednesday, April 30, 2008


When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge …
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.
Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.
Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.

C.P. Cavafy was a Greek Alexandrian who was born in the late 1800's and lived into the 20th century writing poetry that was inspired by his Greek heritage and his Egyptian upbringing. He wrote in English and Greek and likely spoke Arabic rather badly if at all, having been raised some of the his youth in the UK. He's always been one of my favourite poets. This poem seems important to me right now because at the end of the month I will be traveling to the US for two weeks to see my children who are both at the beginning of their travels, although they probably don't see things that way. My son is completing his graduate studies and going to work for at least a while in the US and my daughter is just at the start of her graduate studies which will likely take her to some fairly interesting places.

I am more than happy to be here on my farm enjoying the flow of visitors and the changes of seasons. I know that the children will be in that flow as often as they can arrange it, partly to keep an eye on their old mom who has a tendency to do odd things even at her advanced age and partly because Egypt with her Nile and desert is part of their being. Like my Greek friend, my Ithaca is here under the palms and the endless sun of Egypt. I don't know where my children's Ithaca will be, but I hope that the journey is a long one.

copyright 2008 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani