I’ve been rereading Salinger this week, which means I’ve been reading a lot of references to Sappho. I know, she’s a weird choice for Poetry Friday, because we only really have one complete poem from her, and then a bunch of tantalizing fragments that are kind of hard to quote effectively. But whatever. Read the one we have, and weep for what has been lost:
“The Hymn to Aphrodite” (Fragment 1; literal translation by Henry Thornton Wharton)
Immortal Aphrodite of the broidered throne, daughter of Zeus, weaver of wiles, I pray thee break not my spirit with anguish and distress, O Queen. But come hither, if ever before thou didst hear my voice afar, and listen, and leaving thy father’s golden house camest with chariot yoked, and fair fleet sparrows drew thee, flapping fast their wings around the dark earth, from heaven through mid sky. Quickly arrived they; and thou, blessed one, smiling with immortal countenance, didst ask What now is befallen me, and Why now I call, and What I in my mad heart most desire to see. ‘What Beauty now wouldst thou draw to love thee? Who wrongs thee, Sappho? For even if she flies she shall soon follow, and if she rejects gifts shall yet give, and if she loves not shall soon love, however loth.’ Come, I pray thee, now too, and release me from cruel cares; and all that my heart desires to accomplish, accomplish thou, and be thyself my ally.
Click here for this translation, as well as several attempts to translate it into verse. I like the straight-up version best, though.
Charlotte’s got this week’s Poetry Friday round-up over at her Library. Check it out. (Sorry, bad pun.)