• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Ithaca: A Journey-Not a Destination

Extracts from this document...


Ithaca: A Journey-Not a Destination The poem "Ithaca," by Constantine P. Cavafy expresses his outlook on life. Cavafy was born with Greek citizenship on April 17, 1863, in Alexandria, Egypt. After the death of Cavafy's father in 1870, his family moved to Liverpool, England. Cavafy developed a love for writing in England and indulged in the works of William Shakespeare, Robert Browning, and Oscar Wilde. After problems with the family business, the Cavafy family moved to Constantinople. It was there that Cavafy began his love affair with poetry. The first version of "Ithaca" was written in Greek in 1894. The first English translation was published in 1924, and there have been a number of different translations since then. Along the road in Cavafy's poetic life, he expressed many important themes dealing with his roots from Egypt and Greece. When Greece was under Turkish rule in the eighteenth century, Greek literature virtually disappeared. It was awakened following the Greek War of Independence in 1821-1827. As Greek national pride grew, there was a strong movement amongst writers to use the demotic or the ordinary form of the Greek language. Thus, the influence of this movement is seen in Cavafy's poem "Ithaca." ...read more.


As the poet states in stanza 3, without having an "Ithaca," a goal in mind, there would be no reason to embark on the journey of life. In addition, the poem prescribes that the reader must cultivate a certain habit of mind in order to enjoy the journey. The entire person-mind, body, and spirit-must fully understand that life is the process of living. Also, the traveler must keep his or her "thoughts raised high," which means that the mind must not give in to melancholy or disappointment. The literal level that Cavafy uses is easily accessible and gives the reader advice about life's journey. Figuratively, Cavafy puts all his advice in context by setting it against the background of the Odyssey, one of the greatest travel narratives. In Homer's epic poem, Odysseus always longs for home. He does not enjoy his long journey, which is full of perils and sensual delights. The difference between "Ithaca" and the Odyssey is the emphasis on what is important at the end. In "Ithaca," the journey is valued and the destination is dismissed as of little importance. ...read more.


Apart from the journey as a metaphor for human life, Cavafy uses little figurative language. Cavafy's main rhetorical device in the poem is repetition. In the first stanza, the poet repeats the names of the characters from the Odyssey-Laistrygonians, Cyclops, and Poseidon-in order to emphasize how they may be avoided. The repetition of "as long as" in line 7 of stanza 1 is echoed by the repetition of "unless" at the beginning of lines 11 and 12. The effect suggests that the traveler needs repeated reinforcement before they can understand the message of the poem. A similar effect is gained by the repetition of "sensual perfume" in the second stanza of lines 20 and 21. The use of the word "sensual" uncovers that fulfilment lies in the sensual experiences of the moment, and not the imagined future goal. The vernacular in "Ithaca" represents the accessibility of the advice that Cavafy wishes to convey. Cavafy wrote the poem "Ithaca," to tell the traveler that what is really important is not Ithaca, the island home that was the goal of Odysseus's years of wandering, but the journey itself. The journey must be enjoyed fully at every moment, using all of the senses and intellect, because the goal itself may be disappointing. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Other Poets section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Other Poets essays

  1. This essay is mainly focused on Elizabeth Bishops poem One Art, and the recurrent ...

    first and third lines of the first stanza strategically placed throughout the remainder of the poem"1. Through the usage of this verse form, Bishop is able to portray the irony of mastering "the art of losing". The first and third lines are repeated throughout the poem; such repetition seems to be consistent in terms of rhythm and meaning.

  2. Silence and Opression in Discourse on the Logic of Language

    have been positioned in society: there is a gap between the main text and the woman's story, and to read the woman's story you have to make an effort - a physical effort" (Carey, cited by Milz). Therefore, the marginal position of the mother-daughter story represents women's marginal position in patriarchy.

  1. "Representation makes dummies of us all" - How is this sentiment reflected in Carol ...

    Furthermore, it is not just the recollection of memories that may blur the present and shadow the representation of a person, but the use of language in the poem.

  2. Dylan Thomas' The Hand that Signed the Paper

    This is further reinforced by the final line in the poem "Hands have no tears to flow." Dylan Thomas expresses youthful concerns with this poem. The poem could be considered unsubtle in its intentions, and is not nearly as distinctive as his later poetry.

  1. Compare and contrast different ways of presenting dominance and oppression in post-colonial societies by ...

    The man are described to be 'bronze, preside flayer of horses', questioning their dominance; as strong as a metal. This is further extended by the use of metaphor as the 'iron deliverer', exploring the oppression which takes place in the society.

  2. Discuss the importance of the ideas of roots and rootlessness in post-colonial writing by ...

    However, the fact that the characters are trying to find out who they are, going through various emotions, are equally explored. For example, the fact that Antoinette feels that she is in a 'cardboard house' shows how suffocated she feels and she feels that she does not belong there; thus she feels 'rootless'.

  1. In What Way Imagist Poetry Influences Modernists

    Her poems were usually composed of short sentences. The structure of her poems was highly compact; the themes originated from Greek mythology, sentimental comments, which occurred in the work of Romantic Poetry, were infrequent. Take one of her poems, "Epigram"1 for example: The golden one is gone from the banquets; She, beloved f Atimetus, The swallow, the bright Homonoea; Gone the dear chatterer.

  2. Free essay

    Cutting A Better Man Out Of The Hedge: a discussion of the relation of ...

    More significantly, he frequently links this sign of his genetic identity to his family's history as labourers on the land. The impression given is not just that the family worked on the land; they are the land. There is also a hint in 'Digging' of a further subtext of universal

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work