Saturday, 24 November 2012

Just another stanza in life's journey

As Mr Grigg makes a rude sign at me through the newly-cleaned French windows, I stop to ponder on what our Big Fat Greek Gap Year is all about.

We're going back to Dorset for a week on Thursday and Mr Grigg asks me today as we drive in brilliant sunshine to Corfu Town: 'We've been away for nearly two months. Is it what you expected?'

And do you know, I don't know what I expected. I am not very good at thinking things through or having a fixed idea of what the future might hold.

I think it is warmer than I imagined Corfu to be at this time of year. It's as quiet as I thought it would be, with the tourists long gone and tavernas closed and woodsmoke in the air. And it's been a challenge being with Mr Grigg every day of the week. Yes, definitely a challenge.

I have missed my family, friends and Lush Places terribly, much more than I thought possible. I miss my dogs and cats and I miss the walks to Bluebell Hill. I miss my job and workmates and not having my own money in the bank. I miss my independence.

But  a spell has been woven and, slowly and surely, Agios Magikades is turning into a Greek version of the Enchanted Village back home. 

It's not about the end result, it's about the experience and what we gain from it.  It's all part of life's journey. Which leads me rather neatly to this poem by C P Cavafy, translated by Rae Dalven, and based on Odysseus' quest to return home to his native island.  


When you start on your journey to Ithaca,
then pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
Do not fear the Lestrygonians
and the Cyclopes and the angry Poseidon.
You will never meet such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty,
if a fine emotion touches your body and your spirit.
You will never meet the Lestrygonians,
the Cyclopes and the fierce Poseidon,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not raise them up before you.

Then pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many,
that you will enter ports seen for the first time
with such pleasure, with such joy!
Stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and corals, amber and ebony,
and pleasurable perfumes of all kinds,
buy as many pleasurable perfumes as you can;
visit hosts of Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from those who have knowledge.

Always keep Ithaca fixed 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 long years;
and even to anchor at the isle when you are old,
rich with all that you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have taken the road.
But she has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not defrauded you.
With the great wisdom you have gained, with so much experience,
you must surely have understood by then what Ithacas mean.

Another translation is on YouTube, read by Sean Connery and set to music by Vangelis.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x


  1. The challenge of retirement with Mr Bankerchick has been not so difficult as it is eye opening. It would certainly could be difficult in a faraway place. I am sure your brief trip home will be a welcome change.

  2. Oh this poem which so beautifully mirrors the sentiment of your post is so familiar to me. I knew it back when I was in my early teens and had forgotten all about it. Thank you for this.


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