Gillian Bouras in Melbourne

I hope this is the right Gillian Bouras. I Googled her to find a photo.

I’ve just returned from a talk by Gillian Bouras as part of the launch of her book about her sister who took her own life which I wrote up here.

I even met Peter – a Troppo lurker – which made me feel especially good – blogs are great things non? I later got into a conversation with her son Dimitry about where they lived in Greece – which seems pretty similar to where my wife’s parents come from – both in small villages in the Peloponnese.

Anyway, not a lot that’s worth writing up here except that she introduced her talk by reading sections of Cavafy’s great poem Ithaca which my wife had shown me many many years ago. It is a magnificent poem, and (I gather) a standard in Greece.


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.

This entry was posted in Uncategorised. Bookmark the permalink.
Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
david tiley
17 years ago

He is a very good poet, Cavafy.

17 years ago

Nice one, Nicholas. Didn’t know the poem but a lovely, gentle way to start the day.

A reminder that life is not a race but an Odyssean peregrination to savour.

john schoolderman
john schoolderman
15 years ago

Good God !\
have you people no humanity?
jacqui was a beautiful person who slowly self destructed.
simple as that.
wheres your heart guys?