On Travelling

Two views on travelling, by two disparate writers (an outstanding one and a… well… one that is not in that league)

1) Ithaca, by Constantine P. Cavafy

When you set sail for Ithaca,
wish for the road to be long,
full of adventures, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
an angry Poseidon — do not fear.
You will never find such on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, and your spirit
and body are touched by a fine emotion.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
a savage Poseidon you will not encounter,
if you do not carry them within your spirit,
if your spirit does not place them before you.
Wish for the road to be long.
Many the summer mornings to be which with
pleasure, with joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase the fine goods,
nacre and coral, amber and ebony,
and exquisite perfumes of all sorts,
the most delicate fragances you can find,
to many Egyptian cities you must go,
to learn and learn from the cultivated.
Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your final destination.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better for it to last many years,
and when old to rest in the island,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to offer you wealth.
Ithaca has given you the beautiful journey.
Without her you would not have set out on the road.
Nothing more has she got to give you.
And if you find her threadbare, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

2) (entry from The Book of Disquiet, by Fernando Pessoa)

Travel? One need only exist to travel. I go from day to day, as from station to station, in the rain of my body or my destiny, leaning out over the streets and squares, over people’s faces and gestures, always the same and always different, just like scenery. If I imagine, I see. What more do I do when I travel? Only extreme poverty of the imagination justifies having to travel to feel. ‘Any road, this simple Entepfuhl road, will lead you to the end of the World. But the end of the world, when we go around it full circle, is the same Entepfuhl from which we started out. The end of the world, like the beginning, is in fact our concept of the world. It is in us that the scenery is scenic. If I imagine it, I create it; if I create it, it exists; if it exists, then I see it like any other scenery. So why travel? In Madrid, Berlin, Persia, China, and at the North or South Pole, where would I be but in myself, and in my particular type of sensations? Life is what we make of it. Travel is the traveller. What we see isn’t what we see but what we are.

1) I took this translation from Wikipedia

2) From The Book of Disquiet, translated by Richard Zenith

* Taken from the Scottish writer, Thomas Carlyle:

With amazement, I began to discover that Entepfuhl  stood in the middle of a country, of a world. … It was then that, independently of Schiller’s Wilhelm TelI, made this not quite insignificant  reflection (so true also in spiritual things): Any road, this simple
Entepfuhl road, will lead you to the end of the world!

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