In the sea, on four glass crabs,
stood the Pharos, a wonder of the world.
The animals were entirely glass, twenty feet deep in water,
and so large a man, even stretched out,
could not reach around one claw, many
reports agree. So it might be true.
Of the lighthouse
nothing has come down to us; the sea still shimmers today
with the glass of the crabs. We believe in them
for the sake of this shimmer, and believe the harbour
was accounted a zone of extravagant construction.
Plans for a new library prove it, lavish,
with towers of iron and copper under the surface of the sea
and a tunnel all the way to Cyprus. Then the war
with Pergamon over papyrus and books was costly
and thwarted many things.
Many fancies. Many loves.
They went out like eyes, wrote the sentimental friend
of the poet. A shore leave fucking on a calla-white bed
(and promise you will say when it comes’)
ended in pieces, in black skid marks
on the quay. And nowhere a clue
to what the lips and the skin remembered, except
in his verses, which remain concerned with themselves,
and nervous, at this time of night.
(translated by Andrew Shields)