rocks and air

  From the first birth of a man to the descent of generations. Tales of prophets and men who believed in myths. When Rome was god walls of Babylon were high and streets of Jerusalem bathed in holiness and blood. When Aristotle sat under the high skies and inspired in young Alexander  to be greater than Achilles, to conquer the end of the world. The dust of Ibne Battuta and Marco Polo’s trails hung in the air, to be discovered again.

  So much laughter. So many cries. Such festive celebrations and what great mourning. All under the big blue sky. So many wars and heroes, who set out for glory and whatever they achieved was taken. Destroyed in a whim. To be built again.

 So many lived as Darius. Some died beggars. Some found meanings and some created illusions. But, what matters for they have all lived and died, to be replaced by those who shall die some tomorrow.

  What outlived God’s best creation is air and rocks. How worthless, to be walked over by ants and humans. How mighty, to have remained to witness all the tales from the time of timelessness. These rocks and air….how indifferent towards life!  

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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 Cyclops
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 you body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Posiedon you will never encounter,
if you donot carry them within you soul,
if your heart 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 Egyptians 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 never have set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

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


~Constantine Cavafy(1863-1933)
translated by Rae Dalven