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
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..."
--Translated by Mary Barnard
Come back to me, Gongyla, here tonight,
You, my rose, with your Lydian lyre.
There hovers forever around you delight:
Even your garment plunders my eyes.
I am enchanted: I who once
Complained to the Cyprus-born goddess,
I now beseech
Never to let this lose me grace
But rather bring you back to me:
Amongst all mortal women the one
most wish to see.
by Paul Roche
On the throne
of many hues, Immortal Aphrodite,
child of Zeus, weaving wiles--I beg you
not to subdue my spirit, Queen,
with pain or sorrow
but come--if ever before
having heard my voice from far away
you listened, and leaving your father's
golden home you came
in your chariot yoked with swift, lovely
sparrows bringing you over the dark earth
thick-feathered wings swirling down
from the sky through mid-air
arriving quickly--you, Blessed One,
with a smile on your unaging face
asking again what have I suffered
and why am I calling again
and in my wild heart what did I most wish
to happen to me: "Again whom must I persuade
back into the harness of your love?
Sappho, who wrongs you?
For if she flees, soon she'll pursue,
she doesn't accept gifts, but she'll give,
if not now loving, soon she'll love
even against her will."
Come to me now again, release me from
this pain, everything my spirit longs
to have fulfilled, fulfill, and you
be my ally
by Diane Rayor
That country girl has witched your wishes,
all dressed up in her country clothes
and she hasn't got the sense
to hitch her rags above her ankles.
by Jim Powell
Some an army of horsemen,
some an army on foot
and some say a fleet of ships is the loveliest sight
on this dark earth; but I say it is what-
ever you desire:
and it it possible to make this perfectly
to all; for the woman who far surpassed all others
in her beauty, Helen, left her husband --
the best of all men --
behind and sailed far away to Troy; she did
a single thought for her child nor for her dear parents
but [the goddess of love] led her astray
reminds me now of Anactoria
although far away,
by Josephine Balmer
Though in Sardis now,
she things of us constantly
and of the life we shared.
She saw you as a goddess
and above all your dancing gave her deep joy.
Now she shines among Lydian women like
the rose-fingered moon
rising after sundown, erasing all
stars around her, and pouring light equally
across the salt sea
and over densely flowered fields
lucent under dew. Her light spreads
on roses and tender thyme
and the blooming honey-lotus.
Often while she wanders she remem-
bers you, gentle Atthis,
and desire eats away at her heart
for us to come.
by Willis Barnstone