What are we waiting for,
assembled in the forum?
The barbarians are to arrive
Why such inaction in the Senate?
Why do the Senators
sit and pass no laws?
Because the barbarians are to arrive
What laws can the Senators pass any more?
barbarians come they will make the laws.
Why did our emperor
wake up so early,
and sits at the greatest gate of the city,
the throne, solemn, wearing the crown?
Because the barbarians
are to arrive today.
And the emperor waits to receive
chief. Indeed he has prepared
to give him a scroll. Therein he
many titles and names of honor.
Why have our two
consuls and the praetors come out
today in their red, embroidered
why do they wear amethyst-studded bracelets,
with brilliant, glittering emeralds;
why are they carrying costly
wonderfully carved with silver and gold?
the barbarians are to arrive today,
and such things dazzle the
Why don't the worthy orators come as always
make their speeches, to have their say?
Because the barbarians
are to arrive today;
and they get bored with eloquence and
Why all of a sudden this unrest
(How solemn the faces have become).
Why are the streets and
squares clearing quickly,
and all return to their homes, so deep
Because night is here but the barbarians have not
And some people arrived from the borders,
and said that
there are no longer any barbarians.
And now what shall become
of us without any barbarians?
Those people were some kind of
you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the
angry Poseidon - do not fear them:
such as these you
will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - you will not meet
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise
them up before you.
Ask that your way be long.
At many a
Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy -
for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and
and sensuous perfumes of every kind,
as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
gather stores of knowledge from the learned.
always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined
But don't in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last
so that when you reach the island you are old,
with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give
Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you
would not have set out.
She hasn't anything else to give you.
if you find her poor, Ithaka hasn't deceived you.
So wise you have
become, of such experience,
that already you'll have understood
what these Ithakas mean.
Constantine P. Cavafy (also known as Konstantin or Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis, or Kavaphes; April 29, 1863 – April 29, 1933) was a renowned Greek poet who lived in Alexandria and worked as a journalist and civil servant. He published 154 poems; dozens more remained incomplete or in sketch form. His most important poetry was written after his fortieth birthday.