Stirring the Spirit and the Body

I have been looking at a number of poems and reflections regarding a journey, something to bring with me to read and reflect upon. I had decided also to bring a small book of reflections by Meister Eckhart but decided he will travel by Nook app on my phone. What I have settled on for brevity and lightness of weight are these following three poems/reflections, which touch my heart and, I believe, will sustain me on the journey.

Ithaka

BY C. P. CAVAFY

TRANSLATED BY EDMUND KEELEY

As you set out for Ithaka

hope your road is a long one,

full of adventure, full of discovery.

Laistrygonians, 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, 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 your road is a long one.

May there be many summer mornings when,

with what pleasure, what joy,

you enter harbors you’re seeing 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 learn and go on learning from their scholars.

 

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.

Arriving there is what you’re destined for.

But don’t hurry the journey at all.

Better if it lasts for years,

so you’re old by the time you reach the island,

wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,

not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.

Without her you wouldn’t 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’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

 

The Journey

By David Whyte

Above the mountains

the geese turn into

the light again

 

painting their

black silhouette

on an open sky.

 

Sometimes everything

has to be

inscribed across

the heavens

 

so you can find

the one line

already written

inside you.

 

Sometimes it takes

a great sky

to find that

 

first, bright

and indescribable

wedge of freedom

in your own heart.

 

Sometimes with

the bones of the black

sticks when the fire

has gone out

 

someone has written

something new

in the ashes

of your life.

 

You are not leaving

You are arriving.

 

 

 “None of your knowledge, your reading, your connections will be of any use here: two legs suffice, and big eyes to see with. Walk alone, across mountains or through forests. You are nobody to the hills or the thick boughs heavy with greenery. You are no longer a role, or a status, not even an individual, but a body, a body that feels sharp stones on the paths, the caress of long grass and the freshness of the wind. When you walk, the world has neither present nor future; nothing but the cycle of mornings and evenings. Always the same thing to do all day; walk. But the walker who marvels while walking (the blue of the rocks in a July evening light, the silvery green of olive leaves at noon, the violet morning hills) has no past, no plans, no experience. He has within him the eternal child. While walking I am but a simple gaze.

_Frederic Gros, A Philosophy of Walking

 

 

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