Jun. 5th, 2007

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So I'm going to Europe in two weeks.  I deliberately haven't much of a plan...it's all very napkin-sketch.  My very limited itinerary includes:

1) Drink a fresh Kolsch in Koln/Cologne
2) See Brueghel's "The Fall Of Icarus" at the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Brussels
3) Attend the international MINI festival/party MINI United in Amsterdam
4) Visit Meteren, a tiny town in Geldermalsen, Netherlands that is the origin of my surname
5) Send home postcards and Belgian chocolates (more on that later)
6) Time permitting, hang- or para-glide in the Alps
7) Spend some time futzing around in Prague
8) TIme permitting, visit honorary family member Fenar in Copenhagen
9) As much as possible, take only pinhole and zone plate photographs. *

* I don't want to take the same Europe photos thousands of others have taken, and this seems like a good restriction to encourage creativity.  I'll have only one other lens with me, for portraits of friends made along the way and other things that don't lend themselves to long exposures.

So, in honor of my impending journey, I'll be expanding the Tuesday poem into a series of posts over the next two weeks.  This first one is perhaps the greatest travel poem ever written, most of all because it is not necessarily about travel.

Ithaka


As you set out for Ithaka
hope the journey is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - don't be afraid of them:
you'll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon - you won't encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
may there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbours seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind -
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

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 marvellous journey.
without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Constantine Cavafy
Tr. Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherrard

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