Wednesday 29 July 2009

The Divine Sappho

Sappho of Lesbos is one of the greatest of the Greek lyric poets and one of the few female artists whose voice has been carried from the ancient world.

I have not had one word from her

Frankly I wish I were dead
When she left, she wept
a great deal; she said to me, "This parting must be
endured, Sappho. I go unwillingly."
I said, "Go, and be happy
but remember (you know
well) whom you leave shackled by love
"If you forget me, think
of our gifts to Aphrodite
and all the loveliness that we shared
"all the violet tiaras,
braided rosebuds, dill and
crocus twined around your young neck
"myrrh poured on your head
and on soft mats girls with
all that they most wished for beside them
"while no voices chanted
choruses without ours,
no woodlot bloomed in spring without song...


Come back to me, Gongyla, here tonight,
You, my rose, with your Lydian lyre.
There hovers forever around you delight:
A beauty desired.
Even your garment plunders my eyes.
I am enchanted: I who once
Complained to the Cyprus-born goddess,
Whom I now beseech
Never to let this lose me grace
But rather bring you back to me:
Amongst all mortal women the one
I most wish to see.

Fragment 52

The silver moon is set;
The Pleiades are gone;
Half the long night is spent, and yet
I lie alone.

Fragment 96

She honoured you like a goddess
And delighted in your choral dance.
Now she is pre-eminent among the ladies of Lydia
As the rose-rayed moon after the sinking of the Sun
Surpasses all the stars and spreads it's light upon the sea
And the flowers of the fields
To beautify the spreading dew, freshen roses
Soft chervil and the flowering melilot .....

Restless, she remembers gentle Atthis -
Perhaps her subtle judgement is burdened
By your [ fate ] .....

For us, it is not easy to approach
Goddesses in the beauty of their form
But you ....


  1. Hey, you're back! In response to your question...I used the nick gradvmedusa on wikipedia.

  2. Yes, I remember you! My worry is that a Wikipedia nut by the name of Loomis51 tries to follow me. :-))

  3. I plan to write something one her. Have already written an essay called 'The Tenth Muse' but eventually it'll probably form a chapter in my Magnum Opus.

  4. I shall await that with great interest. :-)