How does the poem "Ithaka" give an idea about Cavafy's outlook on life?

"Ithaka" presents an outlook on life that advocates life as a long, adventurous, discovery-filled journey during which people should seek out challenges, appreciate beauty, and reach out for wealth and wisdom.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In his poem "Ithaka," C. P. Cavafy definitely presents a particular outlook on life. The poem refers to and comments on Homer's Odyssey . The speaker seems to be addressing Odysseus or his crew, but by extension, he is addressing anyone who sets out on a journey. In...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

In his poem "Ithaka," C. P. Cavafy definitely presents a particular outlook on life. The poem refers to and comments on Homer's Odyssey. The speaker seems to be addressing Odysseus or his crew, but by extension, he is addressing anyone who sets out on a journey. In reality, that is all of us, for we are all on a journey through life.

The speaker instructs us to "hope your road is a long one, / full of adventure, full of discovery." Further, we are not to be afraid of the challenges we meet along the way. In fact, we are to look for them, to seek them out, and to set them up for ourselves rather than to try to avoid them. In this poem, such challenges are symbolized by the Laestrygonians, the Cyclops, and Poseidon, the opposition Odysseus meets on his journey.

The speaker continues with the hope that we may find pleasure in the beautiful sights and fine things of the world. We should feel a kind of joy at new experiences and an appreciation for beautiful things, here symbolized by "mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony" and perfumes.

Yet along this journey, we must keep Ithaka, or home, always in mind. This is our goal, our destination, yet there is no hurry. In fact, according to the speaker, it is better not to hurry, but to gain wealth and wisdom and experience along the way. Then, when we return to Ithaka, to home, we can truly appreciate it as our origin, the place that gave us the foundation for our journey and the place that gives us meaning when we get back.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on