On an Italian Shore The Canon
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The son of Menedoros,    Kimos, a Greek-Italian,
fritters his life away    in the pursuit of pleasure,
according to the common    practice in Magna Graecia
among the rich, unruly    young men of today.
 
Today, however, wholly    counter to his nature,
he’s lost in thought, dejected.    There on the shores he sees
with bitter melancholy    ship upon ship that slowly
disgorges crates of booty    from the Peloponnese.
 
Greek booty. Spoils of Corinth.
 
Today don’t be surprised    if it’s unsuitable,
indeed impossible,    for the Italicized
young man to dream of giving    himself to pleasure fully.

Translated by James Merrill

(James Merrill, Collected Poems, Alfred A. Knopf, 2002)

- Original Greek Poem

- Translation by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard