“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where.”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, Chapter VI: Pig and Pepper, (p31) 

You and I shall go
It is above you and I shall go;
Along the Milky Way you and I shall go;
Along the flower trail you and I shall go;
Picking flowers on our way you and I shall go.

Wintu, In the Trail of the Wind: American Indian Poems and Ritual Orations by John Bierhorst)

The journey of a mass in the row of Time;
And loading this arid line,
with the weight of its shape-
a polished, smooth, even shape-
coming from a place,
just after the village of mirrors
And it is so-
that someone remains
and some will die.

Forough Farrokhzad (trans. A. Z. Foreman)

Lascio a te queste impronte sulla terra
Lascio a te queste impronte sulla terra
  tenere dolci, che si possa dire:
qui è passata una gemma o una tempesta,
  una donna che avida di dire
  disse cose notturne e delicate
  una donna che non fu mai amata.
Qui passò forse una furiosa bestia
avida sete che dette tempesta
alla terra, a ogni clima, al firmamento
  ma qui passò soltanto il mio tormento.
I Leave You These Imprints on the earth
I leave you these imprints on the earth,
  tender sweet, that they may say:
here passed a bud or tempest,
  a woman eager to tell who told
  of things nocturnal and delicate,
  a woman who was never loved.
Here perhaps pIssed a furious beast
an avid thirst that brought tempest
to the earth, to every climate, to the firmament;
  but here passed only my torment

Alda Merini (Trans. Cinzia Sartini Blum & Lara Trubowitz)
From Contemporary Italian Women Poets (p108-109)

Passo d’Addio (Trans. Cinzia Sartini Blum & Lara Trubowitz)
The white summer clothes are folded away
and you descend, sweet October,
on the meridian and the nests.

The last song trembles on roof terraces
where shadow was sun and sun shadow,
among appeased agonies.

And while the rose is tepidly lingering
the bitter berry is already dropping the flavour
of smiling farewells.

Cristina Campo from La Tigre Assenza (p4) + Contemporary Italian Women Poets (p22)


As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

C. P. Cavafy, “Ithaca” from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems  (Princeton University Press, 1975). Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard.

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