Transmissions: Three Translations of Sappho

By | 1 August 2012

Sweet mother, I am unable to weave
yearning for a boy, broken by delicate Aphrodite,
         and this
destructive god
Eros limb-loosener excites me, again,
sweetbitter, irresistible, creeping creature.
         I long and seek
         Stand, face me, beloved,
         open your eyes wide and freely
as my pain drips.
I insist I did not love
         now because
                  You roast me
Fearsome winds carry away he
who blames me.


You came, I was maddened –
you cooled my mind, burnt with yearning:
            I don’t imagine touching the sky with both arms.
Yes, I
will love            as long as in me
            I judge myself to have been a strong lover,
            painful bitter
often    for those
I favour are the ones who hurt me
            worst of all
You, I wish
            to suffer            in myself this
I know
all together
blossom
desire.


I loved you dearly long ago, Atthis, when
you seemed to me a little, graceless child

such as the hyacinth on the mountain that
shepherd men press underfoot, breaking the blossom

but thoughts of me, Atthis, are grievous to you,
you have fled to Andromeda.

What rustic girl charms you now,
not having the wisdom to arrange her skirts?

You forget me,
or maybe you love some man more than me.

When anger swells in my breast,
it is better to guard my idly barking tongue.

Andromeda has indeed a beautiful reward.

 


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