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Sunday, 22 October 2017

Sappho - Three Poems

Fragment 1 – A Prayer to Aphrodite

Gorgeously enthroned, eternal Aphrodite,
child of Zeus and weaver of wiles, I beseech you,
let not pain or anguish take possession of
my heart, my lady,

but come here to me, if ever you have heard
my voice from up there, and relented, and
listened, and left your father's golden
dwelling, and come down,

yoking your chariot – beautiful swift
sparrows drew you to the dark-soiled earth,
fluttering their wings, down from heaven
through the mid-air,

and then you arrived – and, blessed goddess,
with a smile on your immortal countenance,
you asked what ailed me this time, and why
I was calling you,

and what it was that I so desired
in my maddened heart. “Who am I to persuade this time
to lead you back into love again? Who is
wronging you, Sappho?

“In truth, if she is fleeing, soon she will pursue;
if she will not take gifts, yet she will give them;
if she does not love, soon she will love,
willing or not.”

Come to me now, free me from my bitter
cares; and accomplish for me whatever
my heart desires to accomplish; and
be you my ally.


Fragment 2 – A Prayer to Aphrodite

Come hither, I pray, from Crete to this holy
shrine, where you have your lovely grove of
apple trees, and altars filled with the smoke
of frankincense;

here cool waters splash through branches of
apple, and all around the place is shaded
with roses, and slumber glides down from
shimmering leaves;

here a meadow, pasture for horses, blooms
with flowers of springtime, and gusts of wind
breathe forth sweetly....

Come here, goddess of Cyprus, and take up
the golden chalices, and gracefully
pour them with nectar like wine, mixed in
with celebration.


Fragment 5 – A Prayer to Aphrodite and the Nereids

Cypris, Sea-maidens, grant, I pray, that
my brother may arrive here safely;
and bring to pass whatever he desires
in his heart;

may he atone, O goddesses, for the past,
and may he be a delight to his friends
and a woe to his enemies; and may we suffer
not one bad thing.

May he be pleased to give his sister
a share of honour....