• 10 min
  • C.P. Cavafy (trans: Avi Sharon)

Programme Note

This work, written in 2009, was commissioned by the BBC for a Promenade Concert in 2010. It is dedicated to Frank Dwyer.

C. P. Cavafy (1863-1933) was a Greek poet who lived most of his life in Alexandria. This poem was written in 1910, and the first English translation published in 1924. The translation used in this work is by Avi Sharon.

The poem ostensibly describes the return of Odysseus to Ithaca with all the perils he encounters on the way. I think that the poem is also about the journey of life that we all undertake: though the perils such as the cannibalistic Laestrygonians, angry Poseidon are metaphoric we can probably find events in our lives that are somewhat parallel!
However the poet stresses that it is the journey that is important – not the "destination”.

"Pray that the journey be long”: "Do not hurry the journey at all”. He describes the richness of the possible adventures on the way. That life be full and rewarding. "For Ithaca gave you a splendid voyage”. Then the arrival in Ithaca will not disappoint.

Thea Musgrave, 2009