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per amica silentia lunae

or, across the ferny brae with the evil voodoo celt

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tales of brave ulysses
Like divalion, I'm going to be honoring National Poetry month with a some of my favorites. No real criteria here, other than that they'll be the ones that inspire a strong reaction in me- the catch in the back of the throat or sudden tearing up or chill down the spine that is my response to truth and beauty combined.


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

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
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.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

- C.P. Cavafy, 1911

This was a recent discovery (via monsteralice), and lately it's been on my mind. Something to do with the recent wedding, probably... it always feels, in some ways, like wishing the happy couple bon voyage on a monumental voyage. It serves as a proper complement to one of my other favorite poems, Tennyson's "Ulysses", neatly bracketing the hero's return to home. Also, I'm starting work on the next novel, and the working title is "Nekiya"- meaning the "night sea voyage" that Odysseus took to summon the shade of Tiresias. The Odyssey was the first of the "great stories" that really resonated with me- there's nothing like a story of brains winning over strength to hearten a young nerd.

The poem is many things, including some very good advice, words to carry with us as we sail on our own journeys. A star to steer by