Israeli Astronaut recites a poem by Konstantin Kavafy before launching into space (VIDEO)

Eytan Stibbe

Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe started reciting the poem Ithaca by well-known Greek poet Konstantin Kavafy moments before launching into space on the first private mission that took off from the International Space Station on Friday writing history in space exploration.


On board, the Axiom Space shuttle, Stibbe, one of four astronauts, opened by saying: 

“A few minutes before launching for this journey, I wish to share with you a few words from the Greek poet Konstantin Kavafis”, he wrote in his message and quoted some verses from “Ithaca”.

According to the Times of Israel, Businessmen Stibbe, American Larry Connor of Ohio and Canadian Mark Pathy have paid $55 million apiece for the rocket ride.

'The visitors’ tickets include access to all but the Russian portion of the space station — they’ll need permission from the three cosmonauts on board. Three Americans and a German also live up there.

'Stibbe, a former fighter pilot and the second-ever Israeli to go to space, is carrying some 35 experiments for companies and research institutions on the privately funded Rakia Mission to the orbiting lab.

'Before entering the SpaceX Dragon capsule, his enthusiasm was obvious — he did a little dance when he arrived at the rocket at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.'


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, "The City" from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Translation Copyright © 1975, 1992 by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Reproduced with permission of Princeton University Press.

Source: C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems (Princeton University Press, 1975)