City with the loveliest name, Syracuse;
don't let me forget the dim
antiquity of your side streets, the pouting balconies
that once caged Spanish ladies,
the way the sea breaks on Ortygia's walls.
Plato met defeat here, escaped with his life,
what can be said about us, unreal tourists.
Your cathedral rose atop a Greek temple
and still grows, but very slowly,
like the heavy pleas of beggars and widows.
At midnight fishing boats radiate
sharp light, demanding prayers
for the perished, the lonely, for you,
city abandoned on a continent's rim,
and for us, imprisoned in our travels.
By Adam Zagajewski; Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh