poet Billy Collins

Billy Collins

#41 on top 500 poets

By A Swimming Pool Outside Syracusa

All afternoon I have been struggling to communicate in Italian with Roberto and Giuseppe, who have begun to resemble the two male characters in my Italian for Beginners, the ones who are always shopping or inquiring about the times of trains, and now I can hardly speak or write English.

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

Add this poem to MyPoemList
2,9 out of 5
68 total ratings
rate this poem

Comments about By A Swimming Pool Outside Syracusa by Billy Collins

  • UR DAD (11/13/2020 5:09:00 AM)

    NAH BORING TO SHORT YOU NEED A LONGER ONE

    JT! }+_{ +_+ X_X

    LOL

    Report Reply
    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • UR DAD (11/13/2020 5:08:00 AM)

    NAH BORING TO SHORT YOU NEED A LONGER ONE

    JT! }+_{

    Report Reply
    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • jnnbj (4/17/2020 10:51:00 AM)

    bjbjbjbvfdfhie f f ds e

    Report Reply
    fcikhj, vh(5/6/2020 12:22:00 PM)

    khgblhgbljh

    0 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Taleah Capewell@wfstu.catholic.edu.au (8/14/2019 11:25:00 PM)

    this is not i want so you better change this now thank you so much so i want a poem

    Report Reply
    1 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • ? ? ? ? ? (3/5/2019 8:22:00 PM)

    this did not help me at all

    Report Reply
    5 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Gabrielle (4/23/2018 9:24:00 AM)

    Short but didn't really help me.

    Report Reply
    6 person liked.
    13 person did not like.
  • Raina Park (4/11/2018 3:56:00 AM)

    What should I write if my ballad’s topic is swimming.

    Report Reply
    5 person liked.
    13 person did not like.
  • Lucas simich (11/29/2017 10:30:00 AM)

    Short but nice poem

    Report Reply
    6 person liked.
    13 person did not like.
  • Susan WilliamsSusan Williams (12/19/2015 10:55:00 PM)

    Now that is awesome how he trusts the reader to understand without having to have it broke down in words of one syllable! Great understatement and humor

    Report Reply
    31 person liked.
    10 person did not like.
  • Max Gita (11/24/2011 9:08:00 AM)

    here we are, just imagine the scene with roberto and giuseppe, chissà che si saranno detti, but this poem so humorous is quite serious reflection about language, instead (and great laughing pleasure, also)

    Report Reply
    7 person liked.
    10 person did not like.
  • Anna Johnson (8/19/2011 11:58:00 PM)

    And this site has the copyright license to publish Collins' poems, I take it? Saying 'we'll take it down if he asks us to' is to act in bad faith.

    Report Reply
    4 person liked.
    12 person did not like.
  • K. Hall (7/13/2007 10:07:00 PM)

    After struggling to communicate with family members today I turned to poetry and found this. Humorous, calming, clever. Thanks, Billy.

    Report Reply
    4 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • James Buja (10/1/2006 10:16:00 AM)

    Well, the problem is easily fixed - by including the whole thing in this comment.

    All afternoon I have been struggling
    to communicate in Italian
    with Roberto and Giuseppe, who have begun
    to resemble the two male characters
    in my Italian for Beginners,
    the ones who are always shopping
    or inquiring about the times of trains,
    and now I can hardly speak or write English.

    I have made important pronouncements
    in this remote limestone valley
    with its trickle of a river,
    stating that it seems hotter
    today even than it was yesterday
    and that swimming is very good for you,
    very beneficial, you might say.
    I also posed burning questions
    about the hours of the archaeological museum
    and the location of the local necropolis.

    But now I am alone in the evening light
    which has softened the white cliffs,
    and I have had a little gin in a glass with ice
    which has softened my mood or—
    how would you say in English—
    has allowed my thoughts to traverse my brain
    with greater gentleness, shall we say,

    or, to put it less literally,
    this drink has extended permission
    to my mind to feel—what's the word? —
    a friendship with the vast sky
    which is very—give me a minute—very blue
    but with much great paleness
    at this special time of day, or as we say in America, now.

    Report Reply
    11 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • Edward Redish (12/22/2005 7:56:00 PM)

    According to the version in my copy of 'Nine Horses', this is only the first few lines of a much longer and much more evocative poem.

    Report Reply
    3 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Sallie Howson (12/7/2005 11:32:00 AM)

    goodness i know the feeling well...after teaching english to italians for 20 odd years i now speak english in the same strange way that they do

    Report Reply
    4 person liked.
    3 person did not like.



Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: shopping, swimming