Privilege Blog

Ithaca, Or, Saturday Morning at 6:59am

Thursday my mother and stepfather hosted a dinner for immediate families, at the Foreign Cinema restaurant in San Francisco. The setting and flowers were gorgeous.

Friday my father and stepmother hosted a rehearsal dinner at their house, for the families and out-of-town guests. Also beautiful. My father read a poem. Particularly relevant as my brother is marrying at 50 for the first time.


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 your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul 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 Egyptian 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 have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

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

Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)

And tonight is the wedding, and a beginning for my brother. Please send him your good thoughts, if you would be so kind. As I have said, I promise to post pictures. Weddings are about promises, after all. Keeping them, and knowing which you must make in the first place.

Flowers by Studio Choo

49 Responses

  1. Congratulations and much happiness to your brother and his soon to be wife.
    Love the poem.

  2. Beautifully put, LPC. All the best to your brother and wife on their wedding day!

  3. Oh, I how have always loved this poem! Can’t wait to see all the pictures from the wedding!
    Sending your brother all my good thoughts and wishes for his special day! May God bless both him and his bride today and always!
    Hope you have a splendid weekend my friend!

  4. Gosh, even though I’ve had this poem in my permanent file for years, it never fails to produce chills again and again, and again just now. What a sublime choice, what a wonderful sendoff, and I add all my best to the ‘burning’ bride and groom.

  5. This made me cry and smile at the same time. Much love and many prayers directed in a westerly direction.

  6. That, of course, was the poem read at Jackie Kennedy’s funeral. I love that poem.

  7. This is so beautiful:
    “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.”

    Congratulations to your brother and his bride.

  8. Congratulations and best wishes to your brother and his bride.

    What a lovely poem your father chose to read. So beautiful, so fitting.

  9. go team wedding! here’s to the culmination of all of the marvelous sisterly work you’ve done. frolic like a child of the night, my dear lisa.

  10. A lovely and thoughtful poem, perfect for a lovely occasion. Best wishes to the happy couple!

  11. Oh, Cavafy. Such a fine one.

    Raise high the roof beam, carpenters! Like Ares comes the bridegroom, taller far than a tall man.

  12. Congratulations to your brother. Here’s to a long and happy marriage.

  13. Lisa…
    Oh it’s tonight!
    Best best wishes for your brother and SIL for a marvelous wedding and a happy future of wedded “bliss” :)

    Please show us a picture of you in your Prada and Bittar.

    Enjoy every second…
    Happy Mother’s Day weekend to you too.

  14. All the best to your brother, Lisa, on his and his new wife’s “beautiful voyage”.


  15. Dear Lisa, I wish you a very festive and successful wedding party and your brother all the best!
    plus Love, Love and Love!

  16. Congratulations to the groom and best wishes to the bride. And mazel tov to the entire clan. A wedding between people who want to and should be together? Such a happy thing!

  17. Wishing your brother and wife to be,much happiness and many years together.

    The beautiful poem Ithaca says it all.Ida

  18. Sending congratulations to your brother and sister in law. Blessings for happiness as you become
    husband and wife.
    And Happy Mother’s Day to LPC.

  19. Um, I meant for “season” to be read as a verb in the first comment. You probably knew that, but when I read it after it was published, I thought it might be confusing. Have fun this weekend!

  20. A beautiful poem. I love it that your father offered it at this time. I’ll be thinking about the wedding tonight.

  21. What a wonderful poem, gorgeous sentiment! There is no doubt this will be a marvellous wedding, the launch of a long and happy marriage, blessed by the love and support of family and friends. Enjoy the festivities.

  22. Happy, Hhppy day to the bride and groom! And to you…have a wonderful time!

  23. All the best to your brother and his wife. I wish them a long and happy journey together.

  24. This made me cry. My beloved nephew approaches 50, never married, the reasons apparent (though perhaps imagined- but I think not) to me. To let love so deeply inside, at this point in life, is a momentous passage. Of course I will think of them, light a candle and hope my own hopes.

  25. That’s the same poem that Maurice Templesman read at Jackie O’s funeral. Love that poem.

  26. Congratulations! Much joy and happiness to your brother and new sister-in-law.
    And Happy Mother’s Day to you too!

  27. A close family friend read this poem at my high school graduation party a few years ago. It’s so beautiful. Congrats to your brother!

  28. What a lovely poem! By now the festivities have ended, but the couple’s wedded life together has just begun. May they have many happy years together. I hope you had a smashing good time.

  29. I first learned of Cavafy as a college student, when I was transfixed–riveted–by the beauty and intensity of his language. Your father is clearly an erudite man, and his selection of Ithaca was quite brilliant. Thank you for sharing the festivities and preparations leading up to your brother’s wedding. How fortunate is he to have you as a sister, and both of his parents still with him at this momentus event in his life. Congratulations to one and all. Reggie

  30. This poem was read at our wedding, and I was just talking about it with a friend yesterday. How nice to see it again.

    Many blessings upon the happy couple!

  31. Congratulations on having one of the most sophisticated blogs I’ve come across in some time! It’s just incredible how much you can take away from something simply because of how visually beautiful it is. You’ve put together a great blog space –great graphics, videos, and layout. This is definitely a must-see blog!

  32. Wonderful, wonderful choice of poem. One of the best.

    Dear Privileged Brother – you have my very best wishes. To marry later in life, and to have such a life that combines WASP privilege and Burning Man, shows that you have thought for yourself and had adventures and experiences. May this marriage be a sweetest new one.

  33. Brilliant poem! Blessing on your brother and his bride for a lifetime of joy!

    Must go now….must look up Cavafy….feel an obsession coming on…….

  34. Ithaca is dear to my heart-and obviously apropos to any of life’s journey’s ,happy travels to you and your family.

Comments are closed.