Friday, February 2, 2007

(Silent) Sappho (Heather)

It's St. Brigid day, and all across the blogosphere people are posting poems.

Last year I featured my favourite modern poet, this year I thought I would showcase a favourite ancient poetess.

The sinking moon has left the sky,
The Pleiades have also gone.
Midnight comes -- and goes, the hours fly
And solitary still, I lie.

He seems to me equals to gods that man
whoever he is who opposite you
sits and listens close
to your sweet speaking

and lovely laughing - oh it
puts the heart in my chest on wings
for when I look at you, even a moment, no speaking
is left in me

no: tongue breaks and thin
fire is racing under skin
and in eyes no sight and drumming
fills ears

and cold sweat holds me and shaking
grips me all, greener than grass
I am and dead - or almost
I seem to me.

But all is to be dared, because even a person of poetry...

Both are modern translations of Sappho, I can't remember who translated the first, but the second is a translation by a wonderful poet named Ann Carson. Most of the fragments that remain by Sappho survive only in snippets and tiny fragments, sometimes of a word only. Sappho 31 was adapted by my favourite Latin poet, Catullus.

Hope you enjoyed it!

1 comment:

Adriana said...

I do like me some Sappho. Maybe next year we put up some Catullus since he's a fave of ours. I particularly like the simplicity of "Odi et Amo".

I'm almost done turning the heel of my Trekking sock!